Tri-Parish director loves The Nutcracker, adding to it

You might think you’d get tired of doing the same thing, year after year. But Wendy Bibby, director of Tri-Parish Ballet in Denham Springs, does just that and loves it.

“I think this is about eight or nine times. I don’t ever get bored with it. I look forward to it every year,” Bibby said of the dance troupe’s annual production of the Christmas classic, The Nutcracker.

With dancing dolls, a forest of snow, clouds of angels and fields of poinsettias, it’s pretty hard to get bored. Even though Bibby loves the story and the performance, she knows audiences want to be surprised, so she makes a few changes every year, and this season is no exception.

“We added a snow fairy this year. Last year we added an owl. We always try to add something to keep it fresh,” she said. This year marks a significant change in venue, too. In years past, the troupe has performed a benefit show at Denham Springs High School followed by a paid performance at the Suma Hill Center in Satsuma. But not this year.

“Both our performances are in Satsuma this year. The one for First United Methodist Church is going to be in Satsuma Saturday, Dec. 8, at 6 p.m. Then on Sunday, Dec. 9, we’ll have the performance at 2 p.m., and that’s the paid performance,” Bibby said. “We were lucky and were able to do both of them there, Suma Hill Conference Center. It’s right off the Satsuma exit (Interstate 12). It’s on the left. The first left puts you right back on the Interstate. The second left turns you right in to the parking lot. You can see it from the Interstate.”

“We had a really good attendance (last year). This will be our first year leaving Denham High. We’re hoping our audience will follow,” Bibby said.

As always, guest dancers, Joel Woellner and Aoi Fujiwara, will dance the lead roles of Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier.

“Our sugar plum fairy and cavalier are both from the Houston Ballet again,” Bibby said.

The role of Maria, the little girl around whom the story revolves, will be performed by two different dancers.

“On the Saturday performance, Leann Wills, daughter of Doug and Tina Wills from Central, will be Maria, and on Sunday the part will be played by Lauren Wheat, daughter of Heath and Tammy Wheat from Denham Springs.

The role of the Nutcracker will be played by Ian Edmonds from Prairieville, and returning for his sixth year, Richard Pringle from Livingston will be the Rat King.

“They love their role, you can tell it when they start doing their battle and the fighting,” Bibby said. Bernard Loze will play Drosselmeyer. He knows the part well. “Our Drosselmeyer has been the same Drosselmeyer for maybe three or four years,” she said. “Some of them are veterans, some of them are not. It always makes it exciting.”

Tri-Parish Ballet draws from all around the area, Bibby said. “We have kids from Central, from Denham, from Walker. We have some from Gonzales, some from Prairieville. So we have kids from all over. Then we have adults who will be the adults in the party scene. We have gymnasts who are coming in from CG’s who will be doing soldier dolls and candy canes, we have some hip hoppers for Russian, of course ballet, and we put a little of extra stuff in there.”

“Some people will say ‘it’s ballet. It’s going to be boring. It’s going to be this, it’s going to be that. It’s not. It tells a story.

“Celeste Gill from the Around Town Show will be narrating this year. She will narrate both the Saturday and Sunday shows,” Bibby said.

The show runs approximately two hours, and has two acts separated by a 10-minute intermission.

“Saturday’s performance is a mini-performance. It won’t have all the backdrops and the props. The Sunday performance will have everything,” Bibby said.

Dancers will move to recorded music by the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra, Bibby said.

  • DANCERS: Jada Alfred, Robin Alfred, Shelby Aydell, Carlie Bankston, Eliza Bankston, Krista Bankston, Michael Bankston, Taylor Bankston, Breleigh Barfield, Blayton Bernard, Catherine Bigham, Katie Bryant, Trevon Burns, Kayegan Campbell, Ella Cifreo, Endia Clark, Hailee Davila, Livey Davila, Michael Davila, Kenzie Davis, Mackenzie Dear, Ralph Dear, Shane Dear, Hannah Dillard, Logan Dover, Christopher Edmonds, Ian Edmonds, Lauren Edmonds, Audrey Elliott, Cameron Engler, Ethan Evans, Aimee Falke, Mollie Flowers, William Golden, Cristi Guerin, Kelsey Guerin, Giselle Harper, Angel Hensley, Niya Hensley, Emma Hunt, Katie Hunt, Zy’Keia Ivy, Melody Johnston, Mirah Johnston, Sydney Kilpatrick, Hannah Kracht, Gabrielle Krautsdorfer, Jordan Lynn Labatut, Katie LeBlanc, Bernard Loze, Sara Loze, Cameron McCalla, Peyton McCalla, Emily McCandless, Gracie McCleary, Kathryn McCleary, Kaitlyn Moulin, Abigail Noland, Lily Noland, Caitlin O’Neal, Callie O’Neal, Reagan Pace, Bailey Pierce, Jerri Pringle, Richard Pringle, Brianna Reed, Myra Schaffer, Alexis Stanley, Jessica Thomas, Sarah Turner, Lacy Villarreal, Jada L. Wade, Trinity Wawak, Lauren Paige Wheat, Tammy Wheat, Alexa White, Amanda White, Billy White, Lisa White, Victoria White and Leann Wills.
  • The Nutcracker is funded in part by the Louisiana State Arts Council and the Louisiana Division of the Arts and the Arts Council of Greater of Baton Rouge through the Decentralized Arts Funding Program.