‘Magical’ event coming to SCCA

Published 9:41 pm Wednesday, December 9, 2009

This weekend’s performances at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts are sure to delight both young and old.

The timeless story of Clara, her brother Fritz, the Nutcracker and the Sugarplum Fairy have been performed for audiences for decades. The Ballet Virginia International version of the ballet will be performed at the center Dec. 12-13 at 3 p.m. each day. Tickets are $15 for students and $30 for adults.

Before the ballet, however, children have the chance to meet the characters from the show during the SCCA’s annual Sugarplum Tea. Children will be able to make crafts and enjoy punch and sweets while they visit with Clara, the Rat King and other dancers.

“It’s just one of the most wonderful, special things for children we can offer,” said Pearl Harrell, president of the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts Foundation. “It’s just an absolute magical fairyland.”

The Sugarplum Tea will be held at 1:30 p.m. each day before the ballet. Tickets are $15 per person, and are separate from tickets for the ballet.

Janina Michalski Bovi, one of the directors of the ballet, said the performers look forward to the tea — and are disappointed when they do not get to visit.

“Sometimes we have difficulty because we can’t send everybody out,” Bovi said. “We almost have to draw straws.”

Visiting the tea even helps the ballet dancers get into character, Bovi said.

“It helps them get into their own character for the performance,” Bovi said. “They absorb the excitement of the children.”

Last year’s Sugarplum Tea drew dozens of children to the center before the performance, Harrell said.

“It’s like a fairy land down there,” Harrell said. “We have the castle, the lights; it’s just a magical time.”

Harrell said the tea can represent the beginning of the Christmas season for the children.

“It’s a wonderful way to start the season,” Harrell said.

Parents are encouraged to bring their own cameras, and children are encouraged to dress up.

“The little girls come all dressed up in tutus,” Harrell said. “They’re so precious. The little girls come in twirling around and around and around. It’s just adorable.”

This is the third year for the Sugarplum Tea, and Suffolk Center staff will take Polaroid pictures of each child. Crafts, punch and sweets will be available for everyone, and ornaments will be available for purchase.

“It really is magical for the little children,” Harrell said. “That’s what’s so special about it.”

To purchase tickets for the Sugarplum Tea and “The Nutcracker,” visit www.SuffolkCenter.org or call 923-2900.