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In a nutshell, you can see Shelby kids in 'Nutcracker'

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By Sally Sanderson Fay

Jerry Seinfeld plays a one-night show at the Louisville Palace Theater this spring. Rosemary Clooney has graced the stage at this historic theater, as has B.B. King.

This week, four Shelby County elementary school students will join the ranks of the famous when they perform in The Nutcracker in a Nutshell on that same stage.

Heritage Elementary School student Emily Allen, along with Clear Creek first-grader Marlee Pettit are mice in this famous ballet. Joining them in the performance are brothers Jake and Ryan Waford, fourth- and fifth-graders at Painted Stone Elementary.

The Waford boys are old hands at this performance thing. This is the third year they are performing for the Nutcracker. Jake double- duties as Fritz and a solider, and Ryan plays a child.

“I really like being on stage at The Palace,” Jake says, “I might be an actor.”

Emily says she “really likes the dance steps and being with my friends.”

Marlee echoes the friend thing “and I really like the costumes.”

Ryan adds that he hopes “the people will think it is pretty.”

For this, the kids have put away playing basketball and soccer to practice each weekend since August. 

Marlee’s mother, Cynthia Pettit, says it is a commitment not just for the kids but for their families as well.

The Nutcracker in a Nutshell is a family-friendly, shorter version of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite.

“The beautiful costumes, music and famous dances are still intact; it is just an abbreviated length of the show,” says Denise Gillman, founder and director of The Gillman Dance Studios in Crestwood and Shelbyville. “That and that the majority of our cast is children is what sets The Nutcracker in a Nutshell apart from the original Nutcracker Suite

Gilman, who also is founder, director and choreographer of MAGIC, Making Art in Children Grow, a non-profit dance company, is a professional ballet dancer who has traveled the world performing, and she is also an international teacher. 

With both of her studios, she and fellow teacher Evelyn Tirikos instruct more than 350 students, including these four in the show.

The Shelby County Orchestra from both high schools will play before the show and during the intermission.

“I’m hoping we can give them the music to learn and that they can perform the music for the entire show next year,” Gilman says.

Students from Shelby County’s schools will see the show on Thursday and Friday.

Public show times are at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets range in price from $17.50 to $20. For ticket information, visit http://www.louisvillepalace.com or call 502-583-4555.