Nutcracker On Ice
START THE SEASON OFF WITH
Annual performance in Norwich includes local skaters
NNorwich’s holiday season would be incomplete without a local club’s annual ice skating extravaganza. “Nutcracker on Ice” is being performed at the Norwich Municipal Ice Rink. The two-hour performance, including intermission, typically draws hundreds of spectators to the show, which is held on back-to-back days.
“We have a lot of skaters from surrounding areas and this is basically the kick-off for Norwich’s winter festival,” explains Maria Smelser, a Norwich Figure Skating Club coach and one of the organizers for the ice event.
“It’s sort of the beginning of the whole holiday season, so I think that’s why people want to come.”
More than 50 members of the skating club, ages three to adult, will take to the ice to put on their rendition of a classical holiday story. Thirty-three club members have secured roles as soloists, while members of the Learn to Skate program will serve as flowers and dewdrops. Several guest skaters will also be included in the program.
The skating club begins working on the annual performance in July, says the coach. Soloists audition at the end of August and practice for both the group and solo routines begin in midSeptember.
“We do vary (the performance) depending on the skaters we have in the show each year, but we try to stay as close to the traditional Nutcracker ballet as possible,” says Smelser.
Skaters will use props and beautiful costumes to bring to life the story of Clara’s Christmas Eve party and her visit to the land of sweets. Now in its 12th year, Smelser says that organizers try to give a new role to each skater every year, however, most of the cast is selected based on how each skater interprets the music during their audition.
“We watch them skate and consider the music from various parts and how they can make the role their own,” says the former competitive skater. “You need to be at a certain level, the freestyle level, to be a soloist. Clara is usually one of the higher-level skaters, her and the Sugar Plum Fairy.”
Along with relatives of the cast and crew, Smelser says the audience includes people from as far away as Rhode Island and as nearby as Waterford.
“Some people just love to see it every year,” she says.