BalletMet cast and crew reflect on the hiatus of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

After the weather turns chilly and Christmas music fills playlists, Central Ohioans will notice something missing this holiday season. There will be no dancing snowflakes, no Sugar Plum Fairy, no handsome Prince, no Clara—no production of “The Nutcracker” at the Ohio Theatre. The pandemic prompted BalletMet to cancel the holiday staple for the first time in its 42-year history. 

To mark the interruption of one of the city’s most enduring performances, four BalletMet veterans spoke about what the show means to them. 

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Daryl Kamer, co-founder

Favorite memory: “We were doing a ‘Nutcracker’ Morning at the Ballet years and years ago. It was where they bring schoolchildren in. This child walked in, stopped in his tracks as he stepped into the Ohio Theatre, looked up at the chandelier and all of the gold and the gilt, put his hands on his hips, looked at me and said, ‘Nice place you have here.’ You could see the awe on his face.” 

What she’ll miss: “It was my very special opportunity to be able to work with the children. Observing them grow from the first rehearsals, in terms of their technical work and their theatrical awareness—just their joy of performing—has been wonderful.”

Erin Rollins, costume shop manager

Favorite memory: “The snow scene is quite fast-paced, but the dancers don’t really let on how fast-paced it is. At one point, there’s this breakneck sprint that several of the girls have to do to get from one wing into another to reach their entrance. One year, one of the gals wiped out on her way around that corner. Her husband, a fellow dancer, decided he was going to fix that problem. He would station himself backstage, and as the girls were coming around, they would grab his arm and literally whip around to make that corner.” 

Sydney Smith, stage manager

Favorite memory: “My goal is always to make sure that the show is consistent and there aren’t too many things that are out of the ordinary with it. I feel like the mishaps actually stand out more to me than the positive things that happen, [like] when Fritz accidentally throws the present into the orchestra pit, or the Arabian silk gets twisted up—that kind of stuff. The mishaps are also fun, in a longer run like ‘Nutcracker,’ just because it keeps it exciting.” 

Caitlin Valentine, dancer

Favorite memory: “I had quite a few shows [in my] first season [in 2014], so it was a lot to take on. I remember specifically there was a Saturday matinee and Saturday night show that they had booked me [as] Sugar Plum for both shows. That’s something they try not to do, because it is crazy hard and exhausting. I remember saying, ‘No, I can do it.’ I remember feeling very accomplished because I performed it twice in one day.” 

What she’ll miss: “I’ll miss being part of the tradition of the holidays. It helps us get in the spirit of the holidays in a sense, but it’s also the tradition of so many families and so many children in Columbus. The fact that they’re a part of our tradition, and we’re a part of theirs, is something really special.”