Symphony, ballet celebrate 25 years of ‘Nutcracker’ collaboration |
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Shirley McMarlin
Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra and Laurel Ballet will present holiday performances of “The Nutcracker” Dec. 8-9 in Greensburg’s Palace Theatre.

“The Nutcracker” has become a time-honored holiday tradition around the world.

More than a century after its 1892 premiere in St. Petersburg, Russia, the ballet annually draws audiences of all ages and all walks of life into its enchanted world of toys come to life to battle an army of mice.

For many children, it is their first exposure to dance, both as audience members and as performers. Choreographer George Balanchine’s iconic production, which premiered in 1954 in New York City, had 35 roles for children.

In Greensburg, “The Nutcracker” is a traditional yuletide collaboration between Laurel Ballet and the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra.

This year is extra special, because it’s the 25th anniversary of that happy marriage.

“The long-time partnership of the WSO and the Laurel Ballet thrives because together we present a professional production featuring local dancers and musicians with deep ties to the community,” said Endy Reindl, WSO executive director, in a release.

Three performances are scheduled, at 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 8 and 2 p.m. Dec. 9 in The Palace Theatre.

Artistic director is Eleanor Tornblom, founder of the ballet. The symphony’s music director Daniel Meyer will conduct the orchestra.

Tornblom, who says she was inspired by Balanchine, sets her “Nutcracker” in Victorian-era America.

She borrows one of Balanchine’s signature effects, a Christmas tree that grows taller on stage.

In addition, Tornblom said in the release that the 2018 production “is full of fun-filled changes including a live-action sword fight between two fencing masters.”

The role of Clara, the young heroine whose dream brings all the characters to life, will be shared by Sarah Barkley-Mastalski (Saturday afternoon), Ashlyn Mough (Saturday evening) and Katie Parker (Sunday).

Details: 724-836-8000 or

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter @shirley_trib.

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