of ringing in the holiday season

Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com The Rat King played by David Reuille, left, flies into the air away from the Nutcracker Prince played by Joshua Blake Carter during their duel in the magic scene during rehearsal on Wednesday of the Owensboro Dance Theatre’s “The Nutcracker” at the RiverPark Center's Cannon Hall.

In the 26 years Owensboro Dance Theatre has been presenting "The Nutcracker," 1,288 dancers have participated in the beloved holiday classic that tells the story of a girl befriending a nutcracker who comes to life on Christmas Eve.

The annual performance, dubbed this year The German American Bank Nutcracker, will take place 7 p.m. Saturday in the RiverPark Center's Cannon Hall. Joy Johnson, ODT managing artistic director, said the show is about 100 tickets away from being sold out.

Johnson said during this year's performance, audience members who have been in the show at some point in his long history will be given a sticker that denotes their participation.

"We'll have everybody stand up and be recognized," she said. "It's really a special thing. We have a lot of parents who were in it as dancers, and now their children, and for some their grandchildren, are dancing in it."

In the show this year are 210 dancers, including 40 dance company members, several professional guest artists, and 160 young children.

Jaysie Beth Royal, ODT assistant artistic director, said a lot of the younger children take the show very seriously.

"They love watching the big girls," she said. "Even the children know that it's a big deal, and it feels like a big deal to them."

This year's show features flying effects by ZFX, which have several dancers hoisted in the air above the stage, as well as a levitating bed. Last year the Rat Queen character was added to the show and she will be returning this year.

Guest artists include Joshua Blake Carter, of Giordano Dance Chicago; Alexander Guzman, of the Kentucky Ballet Theatre; Thad Mayhugh, of Theatre Workshop of Owensboro; David Reuille, of Apex Dance; Nathan Rommel, a freelance Chicago dancer; Kelsey Van Tine, of Kentucky Ballet Theatre; local dancer Anne Welsh; and local dancer Loren Yonts.

ODT will also present performances Friday morning for area school children, and the annual Snow Ball Daddy-Daughter Dance will take place that evening. While tickets for the Snow Ball dance have already sold out, Johnson said they will go back on sale for the 2020 dance in January.

"We sold 300 tickets to the dance, and it's always so popular, so I recommend people buy their tickets as early as they can," she said.

Tickets for the Saturday Nutcracker performance range in price from $17.50 to $36, plus RPC fees.

They are available at owensborotickets.com, at the RiverPark Center Box Office, at 101 Daviess St., or by calling the RPC at 270-687-2770.

For more information visit owensborodancetheatre.org.

Sponsors for this show, aside from German American Bank, include Boardwalk Pipelines, Owensboro Grain, Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline, Hampton Inn & Suites, Wright Implement, and Integrity Testing & Inspection.

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315.

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