Suite for the sweets

Diabetics and dieters beware, all others take heed: This weekend presents an unusual opportunity to experience a full-on sugar rush through the eyes alone! You can totally immerse yourself in the Land of Sweets, if you wish, by taking in two full-scale local productions of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s beloved Nutcracker ballet in a single weekend – one at the Bardavon in Poughkeepsie, and the other at the Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC) in Kingston. Or if that sounds just too self-indulgent (or high-caloric), you can choose just one or the other.

You can’t really go wrong either way, since both entities producing the upcoming performances are old hands at this favorite Christmastime extravaganza in music, dance and sparkly spectacle. In fact, this will be the 30th year that the Catskill Ballet Theatre (CBT), headed by dancer/teacher Anne Hebard, will be mounting a production of The Nutcracker, with a cast that combines young Ulster County ballet students with professional dancers.

CBT’s run at UPAC will kick off with a 10 a.m. performance for kids from area schools this Thursday, December 6, and continue with evening performances beginning at 8 p.m. this Friday and Saturday, December 7 and 8, winding up with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, December 9. Tickets go for $27 general admission, $20 for seniors and students with ID. If you want to make a gala night out of it, while supporting CBT’s year-round teaching program, you might want to consider springing for $35 for Premier Ticket Seating for the Friday performance, which includes admission to a special 30th Year Performance Cocktail Reception before the show at 6:30 p.m.


Tickets for the CBT production of The Nutcracker are available from the UPAC box office at 602 Broadway in Kingston, (845) 339-6088; through TicketMaster at (800) 745-3000; or online by visiting

Then there’s that other veteran stager of The Nutcracker, also with an Ulster County connection: the New Paltz Ballet Theatre (NPBT), whose 2012 run at the Bardavon 1869 Opera House in Poughkeepsie will be merely its 16th annual production. Lest one imagine that the tutus will be threadbare and the sets growing shabby after being trundled out so many times, let it be known that NPBT has sprung for some spiffed-up stage magic this year: brand-new scenery and backdrops for the “Land of Snow” scene in the pine forest, plus 50 new costumes for the cast.

Under the direction of artistic directors Peter and Lisa Naumann, both of whom long danced professionally with the New York City Ballet, NPBT also casts local youngsters in many of the roles in The Nutcracker. But the Naumanns always bring out a couple of big guns from among their former colleagues to dance the main roles; New York City Ballet principals Teresa Reichlen and Ask LaCour will be joining them this time out.

“I think The Nutcracker’s biggest significance is that it is a holiday tradition for so many people,” says NPBT’s Lisa Naumann of the ballet’s perennial appeal. “The music is recognizable by all, and it is a story that can be enjoyed by children as well as adults.”

The shows at the Bardavon begin at 2 and 7:30 p.m. this Saturday, December 8 and at 3 p.m. this Sunday, December 9. Ticket prices are $29 general admission, $26 for students and seniors and $24 for Bardavon members. They are available at the Bardavon box office at 35 Market Street in Poughkeepsie, (845) 473-2072; the UPAC box office at 602 Broadway in Kingston, (845) 339-6088; through TicketMaster at (800) 745-3000 or; or online at

And while you’re getting into the holiday spirit, remember that both the Bardavon and UPAC are suggesting that theatregoers at each December performance chip in an extra $3 per person toward the “Dinner and a Show” fundraising campaign for two of the area’s premier hunger action organizations: the Beverly Close Memorial Food Pantry in Poughkeepsie and the Queens Galley in Kingston. That voluntary $3 donation will cover the cost of one needy person’s dinner at a community soup kitchen.


The Nutcracker, by Catskill Ballet Theatre, Friday/Saturday, December 7-8, 8 p.m., Sunday, December 9, 2 p.m., $35/$27/$20, Ulster Performing Arts Center, 602 Broadway, Kingston, (845) 339-6088,; by New Paltz Ballet Theatre, Saturday, December 8, 2 & 7:30 p.m., Sunday, December 9, 3 p.m., $29/$26/$24, Bardavon, 35 Market Street, Poughkeepsie, (845) 473-2072,