Sewickley Hills senior cast in Lincoln Park’s annual ‘Nutcracker’ production

Thursday, December 13, 2018 | 10:53 AM

Vibrant talent, energetic choreography make ballet a beautiful tradition

Stunning dancing, thrilling fight scenes, and all the splendor and magic of Christmas make Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center’s annual production of “The Nutcracker” a family tradition that is always new and enchanting. The beloved ballet, now in its 12th year at Lincoln Park, is being presented in five performances running December 13-16. Tickets are available online at, or by calling the Lincoln Park Box office at (724) 576-4644.

“Like the magic of Christmas itself, ‘The Nutcracker’ just never gets old, and it’s become a favorite of both our audiences and our staff,” says Justin Fortunato, producing artistic director at Lincoln Park.

“We can never have enough beauty in the world, especially during the holidays, and this production is filled with so many beautiful moments: the graceful movements of the dancers, the elegant set pieces and gorgeous costumes, all brought together by Tchaikovsky’s timeless, enchanting music.”

First performed in 1892, “The Nutcracker” did not reach its immense popularity until the 1960s, and is now presented by countless ballet companies, particularly in North America. Based on a short story by E.T.A. Hoffman, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” the ballet follows the journey of a young girl, Clara, into a magical land on Christmas eve, in which a Nutcracker Prince battles against a Mouse King with seven heads. Clara’s journey is shared with waltzing snowflakes, enchanted toys, and of course the Sugarplum Fairy.

“It’s the talent of our cast that makes it possible for us to think outside the box and keep this production fresh and exciting, even for people who have been with us since our very first ‘Nutcracker,’” says director and choreographer, Jennifer Verba.

“This year’s cast features some very strong dancers who bring incredible acrobatic skills to us. We’ve incorporated this into the choreography, along with rhythmic dance elements and a new fight scene. In fact, Act II is completely new.”

Dancing the tale to life is a 75-member cast that features some of the freshest and most energetic young talent the region has to offer. The cast includes 22 residents from Allegheny County, including Isabella Ray of Sewickley Hills, a senior at Lincoln Park.

Other Allegheny County cast members are seniors Gregory Buck of McKees Rocks, Jocelyn Scullion of Carnegie, Shane Treloar of McDonald, and Elena Turner of Imperial; juniors Lexy Bittner of Pittsburgh, Shea Curran of Pittsburgh, Morgan Faircloth of McKeesport, Josh Lyda of Pittsburgh, Emma Marshall of Bridgeville, Makenna Wakeley of Clinton; 10th-graders Sydney Dawson of Coraopolis, Erika Durden of Pittsburgh, Claire Faust of Pittsburgh, Morgan Faust of Pittsburgh, Caroline Michalow of Pittsburgh, Dyson Ramey of Elizabeth, and Gracie Scullion of Carnegie; ninth-graders Kaylie Stein of Imperial and Lauren Winhold of Gibsonia; and eighth-graders Julia Cain of Clinton and Vaida Marino of Coraopolis.

Lincoln Park is also extending the holiday spirit and experience beyond the stage. In addition to upgrades and enhancements to its concessions in the newly-named Park Café, this year will see the unveiling of a gorgeous and awe-inspiring 30-foot Christmas tree in the middle of the center’s atrium, where patrons can enjoy and be inspired by its beauty.

“We believe the people that come to our shows and support what we do deserve the best and most enjoyable experience possible, and that means offering the highest levels of both artistry and hospitality possible,” Fortunato says.

“The Nutcracker” is presented as part of “You’re Home,” Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center’s 2018-2019 Highmark Blue Cross / Blue Shield Subscription Series. The region’s premier arts-and-education destination, Lincoln Park is located in a beautiful park setting in Midland (Beaver County) Pennsylvania. The Center is home to the renowned Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School, and creates authentic, real-world learning opportunities for young people by offering high-quality, professionally-produced musicals, plays, concerts, ballets, readings, and exhibits for patrons of all ages. For more information, visit