|Isaac Sharratt||Barry Molina||Marc Petrocci|
The Nutcracker is a tradition for many families who flood into theaters all over the world for a little holiday magic. There’s another tradition within The Nutcracker for dancers. It is often when they get their first turn in a principal role. Michael Pink explains, “As a dancer, especially in the United States, The Nutcracker is the only production that has a significant number of performances. As a director this gives a greater possibility of casting more dancers in each role and provides opportunities for us to ‘try out’ up-and-coming dancers in the lead roles.”
Sharratt explains that while playing the magical and mysterious Drosselmeyer is a lot of pressure, he’s enjoying the challenge. “There’s so much riding on the role,” he says. “When you do something like the Jack Doll, your time on stage is brief. You do it and it’s done. As Drosselmeyer you are on stage the whole time. You can’t switch off. It’s just a different kind of focus.”
He continues, “I think that adds more to it because you have so much you have to do, but at the same time there’s so much that you’re free to do.”
Sharratt does have the benefit of two other dancers who have played Drosselmeyer at his disposal: Justin Genna and Ryan Martin. “I got an archival video of the show and I went home and watched it, but you can only learn so much from a video. If I have a question, Ryan and Justin are right there and I can ask them. If I see them doing something I like I can always incorporate it. It’s good to have something else to look at, someone to ask,” he explains.
Barry Molina agrees that having Marc Petrocci in the studio with him is invaluable as he rehearses for Fritz. “He’s really helpful, not only to teach me the steps, but as a model to look up to and aspire towards,” he explains.
Molina, of course, is enjoying his romp around the stage as Fritz. “I like the spontaneity of his character and the kind of mischievous side of that role,” he says, adding, “Being able to get myself out there and have an entire ballet to perform, and help lead the audience through the story is really exciting. The audience watches you when you’re a principal. You’re who they’re relating to.”
The hardest part? Molina says it’s the stamina required to get through the whole show, noting, “There are three or four dances in a row in the second act!”
While Marc Petrocci is no stranger to Milwaukee audiences, he is making his return to the Ballet stage after a knee injury last season. While he did appear in Dracula in an ensemble role, he is excited to return to his top form, and even more excited to play Fritz.
“Fritz is a character that I’m so familiar with so I feel like it’s the perfect thing for me to really take charge again. Because the role was created on me, and Michael has a lot of confidence in me in the role, I feel like I can really let go artistically and in character, and just focusing on my dancing,” he says.
Petrocci adds, “This is the first time I feel like I’m dancing like I was before the injury. I feel like I can move without abandon again. With an injury like that, there’s a little piece of you that is always thinking about it. During the rehearsal process with The Nutcracker, I feel like I’ve been able to let that go a lot.”
Two new faces, one triumphant return, and 12 more chances to catch The Nutcracker this year. Make sure to add a little extra applause for these dancers as they take their bows.