SPRINGFIELD – Several Champaign County residents will perform in this weekend’s “The Nutcracker” at the Kuss Auditorium.
Local residents Ava Chamberlain, and Illa Kerns, both age 8, have parts in the party dance. Tessa Jenkins, 13, will be dancing several parts, which include the Spanish Princess.
There are 158 youth in the show, and 30 parents, said Ohio Performing Institute Director Scot Davidge, who is directing the performance. This is his 26th year bringing The Nutcracker to the community, and it has grown over the years. Davidge is a California native who appeared in Broadway shows. He graduated from USIU School of Performing and Visual Arts with bachelors’ and masters degrees in the arts. He moved to the Springfield area while on tour with the Kenley Players, and created the Ohio Performing Arts Institute to give back to the community.
Tessa said she has been in The Nutcracker for 10 years, performing a variety of parts over that time. She is excited to be the Spanish Princess this year.
“That’s a big role for me,” she said. Tessa said she has been dancing since age 3, and first saw The Nutcracker with her grandmother at age 2.
“I told her I wanted to do this,” she said. “I hadn’t done any dancing before.”
Tessa is part of the Springfield Ballet Company and is an eighth grader in the Graham Local Schools GOAL online program. She said she would like to continue dancing for a living, maybe end up on Broadway some day.
“I really love dance,” she said, adding she also loves being a part of The Nutcracker performance. “I love being with my friends there. It’s like a family.”
Ava is a third grader at West Liberty-Salem Elementary. She will be a mouse and a lollipop in the party dance. She has been dancing since age 2.
“I take it really seriously,” she said. “I do it for fun, but I take it really seriously.”
Ava first saw The Nutcracker when she was 18 months old, her mother, Heather Chamberlain, said. This is her first time performing in the show.
Illa is another who is in the party dance; she has parts as a mouse and a reindeer, her mother Amanda Kerns said. This is her second year in the show. Illa started taking ballet lessons this fall, and “she absolutely loves it.”
“It’s a fantastic production,” Amanda Kerns said. “The kids work so hard, from October until this week. They really do have so much dedication.”
The Nutcracker performances will be at 8 p.m. Dec. 18 and 19 at the Kuss Auditorium. For more information or tickets, visit pac.clarkstate.edu/events or call the ticket office at 937-328-3874.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.