Multiple Nutcracker performances this holiday season

click to enlarge Multiple Nutcracker performances this holiday season
Lucy Schmadeke and Mary Donathan will perform the Peppermint variation with the Springfield Youth Performance Group.

The Nutcracker ballet is a holiday classic. For some The Nutcracker is a longstanding family tradition. Others may not have experienced the magical adventures of Clara and her Nutcracker Prince as they journey to the Land of the Sweets. There are multiple performances in Springfield this December at various times and locations with different cast members. All involve local youth who have devoted countless hours of training. Each performance has its own special character, so take time this holiday season to see one or more of these local presentations of The Nutcracker.

The Springfield Youth Performance Group (SYPG) Foundation will present its first rendition of The Nutcracker, Land of the Sweets, on Dec. 10 and Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Sacred Heart-Griffin Auditorium, 1200 W. Washington Street. Taryn Grant is director of community outreach for SYPG. Grant says this performance was designed to engage community leaders in working with local youth to have a positive impact. Grant invites the community to join in on the magic and excitement as Clara and the Nutcracker Prince travel through the land of the snow and the sweets while being entertained with lively dancing and colorful characters that will delight people of all ages.

The performance includes teenaged dancers from the SYPG studio company, junior high students in the preparatory program and dancers from the Boys and Girls Club of Central Illinois. There will be "gentle narration" by Tiffany Mathis, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club, and Wendy El-Amin, Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

Sacred Heart-Griffin head football coach Ken Leonard, the all-time winningest coach in Illinois High School Association history and fresh off his win for a sixth state football title, will portray Uncle Drosselmeyer. "I'm excited for my first-ever performance and especially with my granddaughter, Julia Leonard," said Coach Leonard. Leonard will be performing in both shows on Dec. 11. He shares the role with Sherman Mayor Trevor Clatfelter, who will be performing in the Saturday shows on Dec. 10. Children are invited to participate in free activities and crafts in the "Nutcracker's Workshop" 30 minutes prior to the start of each show. Grant's goal is to bring in new audiences and inspire families to make The Nutcracker a family tradition. Tickets may be purchased at A livestream of the 2 p.m. show on Dec. 10 will also be available to purchase.

As part of the Downtown Springfield, Inc., Old Capitol Holiday Walks, Copper Coin Ballet will present selections from The Nutcracker Wednesday and Saturday evenings at 5:30 p.m. at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) through Dec. 17. Copper Coin's dancers, along with dancers from other central Illinois communities, will take the stage in the ALPLM Union Theater. The ALPLM will begin distributing free tickets at 4 p.m. the day of the performance. The museum will also have arts and crafts activities for children at the Winter Wonder Workshop, located in the former cafe space. Copper Coin will also present a Nutty Nutcracker version on Thursday, Dec. 22, at the UIS Performing Arts Center. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to

Springfield Ballet will present The Nutcracker Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. at the UIS Performing Arts Center. Springfield Ballet is a nonprofit professional ballet company that has been performing in Springfield for 47 years. For more information and to order tickets, go to

Karen Ackerman Witter

Karen Ackerman Witter started freelance writing after a 35-year career in state government holding various senior leadership positions. Prior to retiring she was associate director of the Illinois State Museum for 14 years. She is the past president of the Kidzeum Board of Directors and is an active volunteer...

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