Sweet sugar plums! The Nutcracker is back

Young dancers -- already veterans -- describe the dedication that goes into the holiday show
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 9:54 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The children nestled all snug in their beds and visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads? That can only mean one thing: It’s time for this year’s The Nutcracker to come to Green Bay’s Weidner Center for the Performing Arts.

For many, the Christmas spirit doesn’t start until after Thanksgiving. Well, this year after Thanksgiving you can find that Christmas spirit at the Weidner Center in their version of the Nutcracker from the 25th to the 27th. We spoke to a couple of the dancers and their moms to find out what the commitment is like for this year’s production.

“I’m the first big ballet dancer in my family, and it’s been a journey and an experience for my whole family, kind of learning the ins and outs of everything, and my family’s just like … every opportunity I’ve had, I’ve been grateful enough to take that opportunity because my parents are there to support me and they come and watch all my shows. It’s really special,” Megan Szkodzinski said.

Fourteen-year-old Megan will play four different characters in this year’s Nutcracker. She was only 7 when she began dancing for the Northeast Wisconsin Dance Organization and The Nutcracker.

Now, on her eighth show, her mother says this has been a journey well worth watching Megan’s growth.

“She’s so dedicated. She’s here seven days a week this time of year, dancing long days on the weekends for this performance, and she’s there helping anybody that needs help. A lot of the little girls really look up to her, which is really cool. One of the little girls’ mom actually sent me a paper that the little girl wrote for school about how much she looked up to Megan and how awesome she was,” Tori Szkodzinski shared.

Then there’s The Queen, 17-year-old Kendall Lawonn. She’s on her seventh go-round with The Nutcracker here with the troupe.

Everything about it is local, from dancers to costumes and even set design.

And when you dance with the same people from year to year, this group tends to be very tight-knit.

“I think it’s a lot of pride that comes from the community that comes from dancing with everyone,” Kendall said. “We’re all kind of a really close family here, so it’s really special to share that with everyone in the audience. I think it’s cool that everyone can feel the community and how much we all love each other. It’s kind of our, or at least, that’s what’s special to me.”

You can watch Kendall, Megan and the rest of the cast of The Nutcracker at the Weidner Center Friday, Nov. 25, through Sunday, Nov. 27.