Alderwood Dance Spectrum’s “A Storybook Nutcracker,” an abbreviated version of the original ballet, is staging Dec. 14 and 15 at the Snohomish PUD Auditorium in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Alderwood Dance Spectrum’s “A Storybook Nutcracker,” an abbreviated version of the original ballet, is staging Dec. 14 and 15 at the Snohomish PUD Auditorium in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Kamiak freshman plays Clara in Alderwood ‘Nutcracker’ ballet

Taylor Carlson, 14, is starring in Alderwood Dance Spectrum’s “Storybook Nutcracker” Dec. 14 and 15.

Taylor Carlson has dreamed of dancing as Clara in “A Storybook Nutcracker” for as long as she can remember.

Since she was 6, Taylor has played myriad characters in Alderwood Dance Spectrum’s abridged “Nutcracker” ballet, from one of the Bon Bons to one of the Little Party Girls. But she’s never won the iconic role as the young girl who receives a magical toy nutcracker for Christmas.

That is, until now.

Taylor, 14, will help bring Clara’s dreams of a nutcracker-turned-prince to life in “A Storybook Nutcracker,” staging Dec. 14 and 15 at the Everett PUD Auditorium.

“It’s actually a dream come true,” said Taylor, a freshman at Kamiak High School in Mukilteo. “The best part for me is that all the younger girls are looking up to me. I feel like I’m there for them in a way.”

“A Storybook Nutcracker,” now in its 23rd year, features David Aldridge as the Nutcracker Prince, Michael Creeden as Herr Drosselmeier, Chuck Dungan as the Mouse King, Missy Olson as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Darlene Larsen, who has played Mother Ginger since 1995.

The ballet is quick-paced — it has a runtime of about 1½ hours — and uses narration to help tell the story of Clara’s dream sequence. Some scenes, such as the Christmas party at the Stahlbaum’s house, have been shortened to keep the story moving along.

“It makes it a lot easier for people who are new to ballet,” said Sue Lidston, founder and director of the Alderwood Dance Spectrum. “The narrator really helps in involving the children in the story and letting them know what’s going on. It’s a very family-oriented performance.”

As there are no speaking parts aside from the narrator, the dancers must rely on body language and tone of music to convey what’s happening in the story. They pantomime their roles, making sure to exaggerate their character’s movements and emotions.

That Clara has no lines is perfectly OK with Taylor. She happens to enjoy expressing what’s going on in Clara’s mind. She especially likes pantomiming in scenes where she helps defeat the Mouse King in a pitched battle and then celebrates the victory in the Land of Sweets.

“Clara should be curious, adventurous… but also very compassionate.

“I really want people to see that she can care for others,” Taylor said. “I feel that most of the emotions will just come in the moment.”

This abridged version the “Nutcracker” ballet was first produced in 1995 by Jennifer Greene, owner of now defunct Everett Dance Theatre. When her dance company closed, Greene continued to produce the popular holiday ballet at Alderwood Dance Spectrum. Lidston took over for her five years ago.

In Greene’s version, the part of the narrator is meant for a grandfather figure. Lidston decided to cast a secret character, whose identity is revealed at the end of the show, to add mystery for the young audience.

It’s yet another way to make “A Storybook Nutcracker” kid-friendly.

Olympic Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’

Olympic Ballet Theatre of Edmonds also is performing “The Nutcracker.” Abridged and full versions of the Christmas ballet are Dec. 21-23 at the Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave., Everett. Showtimes for the abbreviated version are 10 a.m. and noon Dec. 21; the full version stages at 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 22 and 1 and 5 p.m. Dec. 23.

For ticket information, go to

Evan Thompson: 425-339-3427, Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.

If you go

What: Alderwood Dance Spectrum’s “A Storybook Nutcracker”

Where: Everett PUD Auditorium, 2320 California St., Everett

When: Dec. 14 and 15, 7 p.m. Friday and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: $20

More: 425-771-2994 or

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