It’s a bittersweet ending for the Sugar Plum Fairy

Dancing in South Jersey Ballet Theatre’s 20th anniversary production of “The Nutcracker” in December will be a bittersweet experience for Morgan McGoey, 17, of Marlton. For the second year in a row, McGoey will perform the lead role of the Sugar Plum Fairy, but this “Nutcracker” will be the last for the Cherokee High School senior and several of her fellow dancers.

While she is excited about attending a college next year where she can combine academics with dance, McGoey knows it will be difficult to leave behind her “Nutcracker” experience. Over the past 11 years, she has danced many lead roles and has formed close bonds with her ballet teachers and fellow dancers. “This whole experience has had such a huge impact on my childhood,” McGoey explains. “It has formed unforgettable memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. ‘The Nutcracker’ is a tradition I will forever treasure and it’s the main reason why I will always love to dance.”

Andrea Duffin, SJBT’s artistic director, acknowledges that this year’s “Nutcracker” will be particularly special not only because of the production’s 20th anniversary but also because many of the lead roles will be performed by graduating seniors who have studied with Ms. Duffin for more than a decade. In addition to McGoey, the other seniors dancing lead parts include Charissa Gagliano, 18, of Stratford, who will perform as Snow Queen and Candy Cane Lead; Allison Korn, 18, of Laurel Springs, who will perform as Dew Drop and Marzipan Lead; Jen Silver, 17, of Mount Laurel, who will perform as Dew Drop and Candy Cane Lead; and Lauren Mosley, 18, of Voorhees, who will perform as Marzipan Lead and Kissy Doll. They will be joined on stage by more than 100 local young dancers, including Delaney Booth, 14, of Voorhees, and Amanda Valentino, 12, of Erial, who will share the lead role of Clara.

Duffin is extremely proud of her dedicated, talented students and gives them a lot of credit for helping to make SJBT’s “Nutcracker” performances so magical and entertaining for the audience year after year. Duffin says, “I am always asked if our principal dancers are professionals, but I’m proud to say that all of the leads are home grown. From a very young age, these students have spent nights and weekends perfecting their craft, often foregoing other activities to pursue the love of dance and the joy of performing on stage.”

South Jersey Ballet Theatre will present its 20th annual production of “The Nutcracker” on Dec. 16, 17, and 18 at the Voorhees Middle School theatre on Holly Oak Drive in Voorhees. Show times are Friday, Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 17 at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec.r 18 at 2:30 p.m. For information and tickets, call the box office at 856–309–8282. Ticket prices are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors 62 and older, and $12 for children 12 and under. Group rates are available.