Another December Saturday night, another holiday show to attend in central Indiana; this time, Mrs K and I (joined by granddaughter Hanna) headed up to Carmel’s newest theatre, CTC, to catch their first holiday offering: The Nutcracker. Although the show is based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, and uses music from the famous ballet by the same name, scored by Tchaikovsky, and annually presented by scores of ballet companies the world over, it was presented as a theatrical play.

The story is told in dialogue and songs, many of which are sung to the familiar Tchaikovsky themes. All but one song is delivered by the children and they do a fair job with the task. The choreography is designed for the kids to follow, and much of the time they do. It is when they don’t that we feel the most charmed by the ensemble. Watching the soldiers, the dolls, the angels and the mice go through their paces, cued and miscued, brought a lot of smiles, chuckles and applause from the sold out audience, most of whom were indeed related to one or more of the participants.

Part community theatre production, part school play and part musical theatre recital, the show featured a cast of 35, 4 adults and 31 children of all ages. What director Glenda Pilcher has put together is a wholly unpolished, but thoroughly enjoyable, showcase for children. Some had a great deal of talent; many were onstage for the first time it seemed, exploring just what it was like to perform and either enjoying it a great deal or feeling overwhelmed by the experience.

The adults all did solid acting jobs. The lead children – Payton Wallace as daughter Marie, and those in a group that accompany her to The Land of Toys: Mitchell Seifer as the Nutcracker, Nikki Vasil as the rat Rudi, Ellen Gardner as doll Mistress Clara, Karis Pilcher as kitty Feline Legation, and Terri Osuntokun as doll Ballerina – all showed very good stage talents. In supporting roles: Jack Sandifer as Marie’s brother Fritz, Mallory Young as Toyland Princess Piripat, Eve Swanson as Sweet Tooth, and Abby Meredith as the Mouse Queen all gave wonderfully energetic performances. Special mention must be given to Guest Ballerina, Brynna Webb, who brought her immense talent to the CTC stage as the Sugar Plum Fairy. She gave a flawless performance.

It makes me very happy that CTC has delivered thusly on their promise to teach as well as to entertain. By producing a show like this – holiday themed with a large cast of eager and delightful child performers – they no doubt have opened the door to a world of artistic expression and enjoyment for at least some of these youngsters for many years to come. I predict we will be seeing more than a few of these kids on our community theatre stages in the future.

Carmel Theatre Company’s production of The Nutcracker continues with matinee performances at 2pm on Sunday Dec. 8 and 15 and with evening performances at 7pm Thurs/Fri/Sat Dec. 12, 13 and 14.