Sugarplums and sweet treats

Published 11:01 pm Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Guests are welcomed to the Enchanted Castle at the Sugar Plum Tea last year. The event is held before each performance of “The Nutcracker” for children to meet the ballet dancers, enjoy sweets and make crafts.

By Heather McGinley

Special to the News-Herald

An enchanted castle laced in snow and sugarplums; nutcrackers standing at attention, protecting pretty princesses dressed in ball gowns, crowns, and gloves; tables filled with sweet treats, including tea, punch and an assortment of cookies.

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It must be time for the fourth annual Sugar Plum Tea at the Suffolk Center for the Cultural Arts.

The event will take place Saturday and Sunday in the ballroom of the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts. The ballroom will be transformed into the Land of Enchantment, complete with princesses, the Rat King, the Enchanted Castle, the Enchanted Forest and the cast of “The Nutcracker” ballet.

“The decorating theme follows the theme of the ballet,” said Sharyn Flintoff, one of the organizers of the event and co-chairman of special events for the Suffolk Center for the Cultural Arts. “Children are in awe of the whole scenery of the ballroom.”

According to Flintoff, when children and their parents enter the ballroom, they will be greeted by beautiful princesses in the Enchanted Forest. Children and their parents will wind down the stairs to the center of the forest, where they will visit with a princess in the Enchanted Castle.

As children exit the castle, they will be photographed with the Nutcracker Prince. Next, they will proceed to the craft tables, where they will begin fashioning keepsake scrapbooks and autograph books. By this time, the cast of the Nutcracker Ballet will enter the ballroom, and children will have the opportunity to take pictures with the cast and gather autographs.

“Children have the opportunity to meet ballet performers one-on-one. It is the highlight of the day for participants,” Flintoff said. “The children love to have their pictures taken with the performers in costume.”

Every year, this event accompanies the performance of “The Nutcracker” ballet. According to Flintoff, this is a family event geared toward preschool and elementary school children and their families. This event was inspired by the center’s desire to do something for the children in the community, she said. “The children that come really love it.”

The Sugar Plum Tea provides an excellent opportunity for “exposing [children] to ballet and getting them excited about the performance of the ballet and the performing arts,” Flintoff said. “Who knows how many budding ballerinas may get their start at the Nutcracker ballet?”

This event is open to the public. Tickets for the Sugar Plum Tea are $15 per person. The event will precede an abbreviated, child-friendly version of “The Nutcracker” by Ballet Virginia International. The ballet begins at 3 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday.