Itchy costumes, cartwheels and more

Published 9:41 pm Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Suffolk residents attending this weekend’s performances of “The Nutcracker” at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts will see plenty of their neighbors in the cast.

A handful of children in the cast are from Suffolk, including 9-year-old Matty Harrell, a third-grader at the Ghent Montessori School in Norfolk.

“I get to do cartwheels and bridges and things,” Matty said excitedly. Matty plays a gingersnap in the ballet performance, put on by Ballet Virginia International.

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Matty is especially thrilled to have a part this year, because she transferred from another ballet school to Ballet Virginia specifically because she wanted to be in “The Nutcracker.”

“I couldn’t learn what I’m learning here in my other dance school,” Matty said. “Also, I moved, because I wanted to be with my friend Sophie, but we’re still in different classes.”

Matty doesn’t know exactly how long she gets to dance on stage, but “It doesn’t feel that long,” she said.

“We dance with Clara at the beginning, because she’s on stage, but then she walks off stage while we run up to the front of the stage,” Matty said.

Matty just started her seventh year of ballet, and is in her first year of pre-toe classes, which precede the graduation to toe shoes. Matty’s gingersnap costume is various shades of blue.

“It’s itchy,” Matty said. “It sort of looks like pajamas without the jacket.”

Matty’s mother, Ann Randolph Harrell, said Matty is excited to be a part of “The Nutcracker.”

“She feels like she’s part of all the girls that are in the production,” Harrell said.

To see Matty and the rest of the gingersnaps perform, visit to purchase tickets for “The Nutcracker.” Performances are Dec. 12-13 at 3 p.m. each day. The box office also will be open before the performance. Tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for students.