Watch: The Nutcracker Comes To Life on The CCU Stage This Holiday Season


A scene from the 2017 Nutcracker performance shows the artistry of Liza Mata and the Coastal Dance Centre. --Photo courtesy of Coastal Dance Centre

by Liza Mata

Celebrate the holiday spirit with this festive, family-friendly ballet. Myr­tle Beach’s Coastal Youth Ballet Theatre presents the magical holiday production of The Nutcracker for the 13th year with performances on Dec. 8, 9, 15 and 16 at Coastal Carolina University’s Wheel­wright Auditorium in Conway.

The Nutcracker ballet tells the story of young Clara who is given a magi­cal nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve by her eccentric uncle and godfa­ther, Herr Drosselmeyer.  Adventure awaits as she and her transformed Nutcracker Prince

A yearly treat for all within the performance is the discovery of which prominent community member will play the role of Mother Ginger.  Here a very hairy Mother Ginger takes the stage with fan waves.

battle the fright­ful Mouse King before embarking on a journey through the Land of the Snow.  With the help of the Snow Queen, Herr Drosselmeyer, Clara, and her Prince travel to the Land of the Sweets where they are entertained by the Sugar Plum Fairy, her Cavalier, and her Entourage of Sweets.

Bringing the charming Nutcracker story to life are Coastal Youth Ballet Theatre’s cast of 60 of the area’s most talented young dancers together with CYBT ballerina Kiely Elizabeth Clark as the Sugar Plum Fairy and New York City guest artist Mikhail Ilyin as the Cavalier.  The Nutcracker is staged by CYBT professional artistic direc­tors Liza Mata and Karen Mata to the magnificent music of composer Peter Tchaikovsky.

“It is a labor of love for us to put on this show every year,” says Liza Mata.  “The Nutcracker has long been seen as a cultural family favorite during the holiday season, and we are so blessed to be able to bring such a beloved fam­ily tradition to the Myrtle Beach area for thirteen years now.  Our dancers work tirelessly to bring these perfor­mances to life and to bring smiles and joy to their audiences.”

Coastal Youth Ballet Theatre is a non­profit 501(c)3 arts organization dedicat­ed to the artistic and cultural enrichment of Horry and Georgetown counties.  Ar­tistic and Executive Director Liza Mata established Coastal Youth Ballet Theatre in 2006 as the performing company of Coastal Dance Centre, a dance school based at The Market Common, Myrtle Beach, and highly regarded for its pro­gram of dance training and performance opportunities and professionally staged productions.  Coastal Youth Ballet The­atre provides an artistic home base to the area’s most talented young dancers who are able to participate in full-length ballet productions, performances, scholarship awards and community outreach en­gagements.

A treat for The Nutcracker audience every year is finding out which local and regional celebrities are perform­ing the special role of the beloved “Mother Ginger” character for each performance.  The local celebrities and hometown

“The Nutcracker has long been seen as a cultural family favorite during the holiday season.” — Liza Mata

heroes who will be playing “Mother Ginger” have been nominated by their community members and will be featured indi­vidually in each of the performances.

Lt. Jon Evans, public education offi­cer for the Myrtle Beach Fire Depart­ment, will be Mother Ginger for the 2 p.m. performance on Saturday, Dec. 15.

“I’m honored to be asked to play the role of Mother Ginger this year,” says Evans, who has been with MBFD for more than 10 years.  “Being a firefight­er is all about serving the community, and while this may not be the typical type of community service for a fire­fighter, I’m looking forward to the op­portunity to be a part of the show and make the holidays a little brighter for the Myrtle Beach area.”

The remaining celebrity cast mem­bers for the role of Mother Ginger will be announced at a later date.  Past “Mother Gingers” have included Barbara Jo Blain-Bellamy, mayor of Conway; Ed Piotrowski, chief mete­orologist for WPDE; Johnny Vaught, Horry County councilmember; and Randal Wallace Myrtle Beach city councilmember, among others.

The Nutcracker Premiers at Coastal Carolina University, Wheel­wright Auditorium, 108 Spadoni Park Circle, Conway, SC 29526.

On Saturday, December 8, 2 & 7pm;
Sunday, December 9, 3 pm;
Saturday, December 15, 2 & 7 pm;
Sunday, December 16, 3 pm.

Purchase Tickets:
www.tickets.coastal.edu; 843-349-ARTS (2787); in person at Wheelwright Auditorium. Box office hours: Monday – Friday, 9 am – 5 pm.  Tickets: $10 – $30.

To learn more visit www.cybt.org or www.coastaldancecentre.com or contact Liza Mata 843-839-5678.

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