By Molly Schecklman —

The first time The Nutcracker was ever performed was on Dec. 18, 1892 in Petersburg, Russia. Nearly 130 years later, on the same day in December, The Nutcracker will bring life to the stage once again here in Menomonie.  

The story takes place on Christmas Eve when a child receives a wooden nutcracker. Throughout the night, her dreams whisk her into a magical world where her toys become larger than life itself and her cherished nutcracker defends her honor.  

Aside from a night at the ballet, The Nutcracker has become quite the family, holiday tradition.  “I used to dance, and like most little girls I wanted to be a ballerina. My mom likes live theatre and she was keen on sharing that with me,” said Meg Houpt, a former student at the University of Wisconsin–Stout who has been attending the production since she was a little girl.

“I’m not sure when I was first exposed to the story of The Nutcracker, but I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know the story. I was kind of obsessed with it for a while; I even started collecting nutcrackers. I watched every film version I could find, immersed myself into every written variation and relished every December when my mom and I went to see it performed live by the Milwaukee Ballet,” said Houpt. Houpt now looks forward to the production being brought to Menomonie.

The Nutcracker has quickly become one of the most popular ballets in the world due to its holiday ties and the musical journey that accompanies it.  For fellow dancer and ballerina Sarah Mealey, a Health, Wellness and Fitness student here at Stout, dance has been a huge part of her life, especially ballet, and she can connect to the artistic side of the production.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve seen The Nutcracker, probably more than 10 times. My favorite part is seeing the costumes of the sugarplum fairy and snowflake fairies. Also the part when all the different cultures in the dreamland show Clara a dance to welcome her,” said Mealey. It has also been a tradition for Mealey and her mother to go see the production every holiday.

The Nutcracker will be at the Mabel Tainter Theatre in Menomonie on Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m.

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