ROSWELL, Ga. — It’s once again time for sugarplum fairies and marching toy soldiers. Roswell Dance Theatre is putting on their 29th annual performance of “The Nutcracker,” directed by Nancy Tolbert Yilmaz and Mary Lynn Taylor.
“The performance this year is bigger and better than ever,” Tolbert Yilmaz said. “We’ve added some new scenes… We have 12 shows this season, some of which have already sold out.”
Started in 1988 and now with 350 performers, this holiday tradition is one of the largest and oldest in North Fulton. Tolbert Yilmaz’s grandmother, Ena Tilmaz, was the original Grandmother in the first performance. They have come a long way since that inaugural show.
“That very first year, we had very limited costumes,” Tolbert Yilmaz said. “My daughter, who dances professionally now in New York, was one of the original cast members in the 1988 production. She wore her Christmas dress for her role. Now, we have professionally made costumes. One of the tutus this year, just the tutu, is $800.”
The Sugarplum tutu, which is new this year, is handmade with over 400 Swarovski crystals sown into the fabric. Each of the tutus on stage has over nine layers of fabric and over 230 hand-tied knots to help hold them flat.
Tolbert Yilmaz said that more than 2,180 pieces of costumes have been made, fit or repaired for this year’s show. Each cast member is outfitted with 4-5 pieces for their costumes.
More than 350 people have been cast for this year’s show. The average age for the performers is 12, while the youngest performer is 10 months old and will play the part of the baby. She is the daughter of one of the Roswell Dance Theatre alumni.
This year’s shows include guest dancers who have performed in venues around the world and have appeared in movies. Rick Twombley, one guest male dancer, has performed in Tokyo Disney, Cirque Du Soleil and has appeared in “The Hunger Games” and “The Getaway.” Guest dancers Mark Burns, Robert Gosnell and Roscoe Sales have likewise danced with companies in Italy, Harlem and Brooklyn.
“What makes our performance different is community support,” Tolbert Yilmaz said. “We have a lot of people not only in our show but patrons who we know exactly where they’re going to be sitting. Certain ones are always there because it’s a tradition. It’s a part of Roswell.”
There will be 12 performances, from Nov. 24-Dec. 3, at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 950 Forrest St., Roswell. Tickets are on sale now at roswellnutcracker.com and start at $20. On Dec. 2, there will be a Character Breakfast Performance with breakfast and photo opportunities with the cast members. There will likewise be a Sugar Plum Tea Performance Dec. 3 with photo opportunities along with tea and sweets. The Gala Performance will be held Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. with a catered preshow reception.
For information about “The Nutcracker” and the Roswell Dance Theatre, visit tysod.com.