Oak Park fourth-grader preps for debut in the Joffrey's 'Nutcracker'

No ordinary musical for Irving student

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

Dress rehearsals for 9-year-old Sarah Parton begin next week, but this isn't some tiny tot's school play. The Irving School fourth-grader will join three other youth from Oak Park and surrounding western suburbs performing in Joffrey Ballet's The Nutcracker this month in Chicago.

The ballet company casts youth from the Chicago area to perform in the musical every year. Parton will be joined by fellow Oak Parkers Ella Niermann, 10, and Christine Compasio, 20.

Sarah's mom, Kristy, said the entire family is excited. A friend of Sarah's performed in the show last year, but this is her first time in the production. More than 100 youth annually perform in certain sections of the show. Auditions this year took place in August. Sarah, who's been dancing since she was 3, was chosen on the spot, along with the other performers.

Most of the family lives outside Oak Park, but Parton said 5-10 people, including friends, plan on attending the performance. The Nutcracker runs Dec. 10-26 at Roosevelt University's Auditorium Theater in downtown Chicago. Sarah will perform in nine shows.

"We're all very excited that she could get a part in such a prestigious play," said Parton, noting that her daughter enjoys tap dancing most, also jazz and hip-hop. She performed a couple of summers ago in Julian's CAST performance camp for elementary school kids, and she has performed in a children's version of Macbeth at Dominican University and with the Actor's Garden Theater. In The Nutcracker, she'll play one of the lifelike dolls. She's been in two rehearsals a week up to this point. Parton said her daughter hasn't shown any nervousness about performing in such a large show.

"She's just going with the flow."

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