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North Fort Myers Academy of the Arts to present ‘The Nutcracker’ Dec. 11

By Staff | Dec 4, 2015

It has become one of the true holiday traditions in Southwest Florida, where the children from the North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts present another holiday tradition.

It’s “The Nutcracker” ballet, complete with the sugar-plum fairies and toy soldiers, and it’s coming to the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall Friday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m.

Tickets are still available, but they’re going fast. By the time the show comes around, all 1,800 seats are usually sold out, and as it is the school’s biggest fundraiser, that’s a good thing.

Dr. Douglas Santini, principal at NFMAA who will play his traditional role as Uncle Drosselmeyer, said tickets have sold steady for more than a month, with more than 1,000 sold at the school alone.

“We have a lot of kids involved in it. More than 300. We’ll have the chorus sing before the actual performance because we want everyone in their seats by 7,” Santini said.

The school started “The Nutcracker” about a decade ago, with all the shows done at the school at first before moving to the Mann Hall about six years ago to allow the kids to do one big show instead of numerous shows at the smaller auditorium.

“We had a former dance teacher who suggested we take it there. I told her she was crazy and we’d never fill the place, but we do,” Santini said. “We ask where the 1,800 people will come from, and they come from everywhere. It’s become a tradition and the Barbara Mann has helped us with it.”

But first, the cast and crew will do a dry run in front of the entire school on Tuesday to get the kinks out. The performers will be at the school at 4:30 a.m., with a TV crew expected to be at the first performance that morning, with another show to follow.

The Barbara B. Mann show is expected to raise around $25,000 for the school, with much of it going toward the play itself and for costumes.

Santini said they usually replace the costumes from one scene each year. This year, the school needed to buy more costumes because there are 80 more kids in the production as a new, all-boys dance class has joined in.

“We’re trying to get more boys involved. The boys who do jazz and hip-hop play the Russian dancers. There’s a lot of movement in that and they like it,” Santini said.

“The Nutcracker” has been a children’s favorite for generations, one that when they become adults they bring their own kids to.

“It’s just wholesome entertainment. You bring the kids and grandkids and they get to see it. It’s very colorful and the costumes are unbelievable. It’s a wonderful show and the kids do a great job,” Santini said.

Reserve tickets are $10, $20 and $30 and can be purchased at the office or online at www.bbmannpah.com.