‘The Nutcracker Ballet’ returns for 15th season

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Tiffany Erickson from San Diego Ballet will dance the female lead of Clara in The Ballet Studio’s “The Nutcracker Ballet 2019,” opening Friday, Dec. 13, at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater. Shawna Sarnowski Photography

Mark Erickson, director of The Ballet Studio’s “The Nutcracker Ballet 2019,” understands that the holidays are not always a most joyous season.

But he hopes to help when people see his production, opening Friday, Dec. 13, at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater.

“For many people Christmas is not an easy time of the year,” he said. “My hope is that when our patrons enter the theater, for a brief moment in time we can transport them out of reality and into another world.”

The Ballet Studio has been producing “The Nutcracker Ballet” for the past 15 years at the theater, and this year he expects to bring the classic tale of a girl’s first love, a Rat King, a Nutcracker and a Prince, set to Tchaikovsky’s classic score, to life.

“Over the last 15 years I have had the opportunity to make adjustments to this unique ‘Nutcracker’ production,” Erickson said. “I see it as almost a work in progress. Every year people come with the knowledge that it will be fresh each year and look forward to spotting minor and sometimes larger changes to the production.”

He said for 2019 they have added to the battle scene and, “in so doing have made it more interesting and exciting.”

Tona Gómez from Mexico City will be dancing the male Prince lead, and Tiffany Erickson from San Diego Ballet will dance the female lead of Clara.

“We have a wide range of ages in this year’s production, from 3 years old to professional, along with adults from the Temecula and Murrieta community,” Erickson said. “The main challenge for our ‘Nutcracker’ production is to integrate all ages and technical levels into a cohesive professional production. I believe we have been able to accomplish this.

“Every volunteer that works on the show each year and all the dancers are very proud of this production,” he said.

He said he looks forward to seeing the looks on the faces of the audience when they see the tweaks he’s added to the production.

“For me as a director and creator the highlights of our show is giving the audiences something they do not expect and surprising them,” he said. “Such as our opening Toy Shop, Battle scene and Clara’s dream sequence.”

And for him, personally, Erickson said he finds the process pleasing.

“The great thing about ‘Nutcracker’ for me is that I get to live in the Christmas season for more than just one day,” he said. “This is very rewarding.”

“The Nutcracker Ballet 2019,” presented by Fine Arts Network and The Ballet Studio, will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13 and 20; at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14 and 21; at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15, and Monday, Dec. 23, and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22.

Tickets are $29-$39 and are available at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater, 42051 Main Street, at the box office, at http://tickets.temeculatheater.org or over the phone at (866) 653-8696.

Discounts are available for seniors ages 65 and older, military and groups of 10 or more.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.