Meet the Cast!
“The Nutcracker Suite & Spicy” is a quirky, innovative production infused with humor and updates to better reflect a contemporary, urban holiday. The production has become a Hartford holiday classic that excites audiences year after year with its professional dancers and creative choreography.
And this year's production will add some extra treats to the usual rousing, toe-tapping, high-kicking spin on the classical ballet including new cast members in several roles, Hartford legend Tang Sauce in a new scene, and eye-popping LED costuming during the iconic Snowball!
Meet some of the cast members of this year's show and learn what makes this production and the holiday season so special to them.
Hartford native Tristan Roden-Drummond will be leaping into the title role of The Nutcracker this year. This role has been danced by CONNetic Dance audience favorite Alex Zarlengo since the production's first year. But Alex is recovering from surgery for a torn achilles. "Tristan brings a very different energy and personality to the role," says Director/Choreographer Carolyn Paine. "He exudes this commanding presence and elegance."
Tristan, who previously performed with Spectrum in Motion and Pioneer Valley Ballet, is performing with the company for his second year. He is very excited to be stepping up to the challenge of the title role and to be part of such a diverse show that he thinks shares an important message. "At a time in the world where it seems there is so much division, The Nutcracker Suite & Spicy is about-bringing people together," Tristan explains. "It's about acceptance, care, giving, laughter, and jubilation. It's what the holiday season is really about."
And don't worry, you will still see Alex Zarlengo on stage too! He will be re-vamping the role of Drosselmeyer-putting his own flamboyant spin on the character. "I'm going to make him the fun, gay uncle," Alex says. "I've always felt that is who a character like Drosselmeyer- who brings all this fun, glitter, and magic to the party-really is."
Returning to the role of Clara for her 7th season is CONNetic Dance company member Kayleigh Crocetto, who is also currently getting her degree at Central Connecticut State University. For Kayleigh, "Nutcracker is my favorite part of the holidays season!" And for her family, the Nutcracker Suite & Spicy has become a huge part of their holiday tradition as well since both her siblings are again performing in the show. Her 14 year old sister, Meghan, is the youngest apprentice dancing with the adult professional company in the Snowball and tumbling as one of the Candy Cane Twists. And her 9 year old brother Jake is also reprising his role of Junior, Clara's trouble making, break-dancing dancing little brother in Act 1.
Another audience favorite returning to the stage this year is Lucie the Dog who dances alongside fellow returning French Martini dancers Elisabeth Jeffrey and Leigh Schanfein in Act 2. Wearing a pink and black tutu that matches the dancers can-can style tutu-skirts, Lucie, a 10 year old Labradoodle from West Hartford, always gets applause when she prances across the stage alongside the dancers. Elisabeth says of the pas de trois she dances with Leigh and the dog, "It’s fun and silly, but underneath that, it’s a lot of complex, technical pointe work! "
This will be Lucie's final year performing in the production before she retires to freely enjoy her doggie treats without having to worry about fitting into her tutu.
Leigh Schanfein with Lucie the Dog
One of the dancers joining the cast this year is Alaina Watson. "The cast is so talented, I am inspired," says Alaina who is "in love with the different styles of dance and fun costumes in the show." She especially enjoys showing off her acrobatic skills in her role as a Candy Cane Twist. Alaina knows "audiences will love this show because it is so different and not predictable in the least....something all ages can enjoy."
Tyler Brown is also new to the cast. He joins popular Hartford-based musician and dancer Tang Sauce in a new scene that finds Hip Hop Soldiers Tyler and Tang in a battle with the Club Rat, played to perfection once again by Freddy Rosado. Tyler says, "The audience will fall in love with the story and characters as I have in every rehearsal." He truly loves the "over the top characters we play" and getting to mix in challenging stunts in the new scene's exciting choreography.
But what all the dancers, new and returning, find they love most about dancing in "The Nutcracker Suite & Spicy" is that it is fun! As veteran company member Jennifer Ferrigno Decoteau explains, "If it looks like we're having a great time on stage during the party scene, it's because we are. It's the ugly sweater party that I actually look forward to every year."
Get your tickets online or by calling
860-251-9194 to be part of the
holiday fun with us this year!
Company dancer Sam Flook, who is returning dancing many roles, including her favorite role of the sensuous Arabian Temptation (which has new choreography this year as well) loves how the show's diversity keeps it exciting. "You never know when someone is randomly going to end up upside down or just throw a flip out there. Everyone can do something different , but when we put it all together we look incredibly cohesive. It's not your typical Nutcracker, each scene is like its own little show. Definitely no time to get bored."
Sam Flook and Norman Campbell