Sue Darrow students return in ‘Nutcracker’

After months of rehearsals and costume fittings, it is now time for the holiday season to take the stage as Sue Darrow returns to the Stefanie H. Weill Center for the Performing Arts with her student production of The Nutcracker at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6. This production features the Dancescape Ballet Company of the Sue Darrow School of Dance.

Darrow and the Dancescape Ballet Company moved into the Weill Center on Monday, Nov. 30, to begin the final phase of rehearsals for their performance of The Nutcracker. This is the fourth time this performance will take place at the Weill Center and it will be a first time for many of the performers.

In August, Darrow began to cast the show and rehearsals followed at the end of the month. Rehearsals are twice a week and focus solely on this performance. For this performance, there are 45 dancers, ranging in age from 8 years old to 19, and 17 guest performers.

The costumes come from the top costume companies in the country and are made specifically for Darrow and the Dancescape Ballet Company. When costumes are not available at the traditional costume company, Bonnie Siech steps in to design the costumes and has them made by local seamstresses.

The costuming comes to life under the elaborate lighting at the Weill Center creating a depth of field in color and dimension to the production. The costumes and lighting only enhance the excitement of the cast that brings this performance to the stage.

Most of the cast have danced at Sue Darrow recitals, but this is their first time on the grand stage at the Weill Center – which is enough to get nervous about – but the energy is lifted, as up to 1,100 people sit before them.

One family that has participated in dance with Sue Darrow is the Wusterbarths from Kiel. This is a family event in that father Dave built props, mother Cheri arranges meals for the cast, and their family has had five dancers grow up dancing.

Daughters – Brittany, Destiny and Harmony – all participate. Brittany, who is 26, began dancing with Sue Darrow at the age of 4 and she is now a teacher at the school. Destiny will perform as Mother Ginger and Harmony is the Dancing Doll. They each have over 15 years of dancing with the Darrow School to their credits.

Just when you think that is impressive, then the Wusterbarth boys, Zach and Ramsey, take the stage.

Zach performs in the role of the Godfather and Ramsey as the Prince, and they have each been part of the Darrow School of Dance for over 15 years.

It is obvious that the Dancescape Ballet production is the ultimate family event. But there is more, as Sue’s husband, Jim, sets up the staging and then performs in the production, as does daughter, Jodi, and her husband, Jon Baus, with a special guest appearance by Jakob Darrow, Sue and Jim’s grandson.

The Dancescape Ballet Company was created by Sue Darrow as a specialty program at her school in Plymouth, and is dedicated to five specialty dance forms, including ballet. For this performance, dancers include parents and former students participating in specific roles.

The Dancescape Ballet Company was formed in 1987 and over its 22 years, has earned the respect and appreciation of theater goers throughout Wisconsin’s various ballet performances, especially The Nutcracker. The performances are appreciated for their dance precision, the ability of these young dancers, as well as the heartwarming passion of the cast.

Although this performance of The Nutcracker is a fund-raising effort by the Dancescape Ballet Company, which is a nonprofit organization located in Plymouth, the tickets pricing has been kept at a minimum, $17 and $20, in an effort to make this family-friendly performance an experience that is affordable for everyone.

Tickets are available at the Weill Center Ticket Office at 826 N. Eighth St., between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, or by calling (920) 208-3243. Go to for more details and to preview other upcoming performances.

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