Tea attracts dozens of children

Published 8:49 pm Saturday, December 12, 2009

In the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts ballroom Saturday, the Sugar Plum Princess held court in a castle while dozens of children lined up to see her.

Lindsay Elliott, 15, volunteered to sit upon her throne and sign autographs in copies of “The Nutcracker” children’s book during the center’s annual Sugarplum Tea. The event, which also will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, precedes “The Nutcracker” by Ballet Virginia International at 3 p.m. both days.

The line to Elliott’s castle was short-lived, however; the children scattered to line up to meet Clara and the Nutcracker when they entered the room.

“It’s just a great way to meet all the kids,” said Marley Lyster, 12, who danced the part of Clara in the ballet. “It’s fun to see who’s actually coming to the shows.”

“The Nutcracker” is a tradition for the Norfolk-based dance school, which does Sugarplum Teas before many of its performances of the traditional ballet. Members of the cast volunteer to attend the tea and meet the audience members before the show.

Not long after the line for Clara and the Nutcracker dissipated, a new line formed — this time for the Sugar Plum Fairy, who had just entered the room in toe shoes, a purple costume and a crown.

“I didn’t get very far in and there was a swarm,” said Jacquelyn Long, 16, who danced the part of the Sugar Plum Fairy. “It’s really fun.”

The young girls who took part in the tea excitedly moved from dancer to dancer, getting autographs on their programs or in their books.

“I haven’t seen it in a really long time,” Emmerson Beale, 7, said of the ballet. “This one might be different.”

Emmerson named her favorite part as “where the Nutcracker and mouse fight.” She and her sister Madison came to the tea with their father.

Hannah Bookert, 12, an angel in the ballet, said she enjoys attending the Sugarplum Tea because it helps her soak up the younger children’s excitement.

“All the kids are enthusiastic about the Nutcracker,” Hannah said.

Sunday’s Sugarplum Tea begins at 1:30 p.m., with the ballet beginning at 3 p.m. Call 923-2900 for more information.