View Full Version : Marines take roles in 'The Nutcracker'

12-15-05, 02:50 PM
Marines take roles in 'The Nutcracker'
By: TOM PFINGSTEN - Staff Writer

FALLBROOK ---- "The Nutcracker" is a gently orchestrated, soft-stepping ballet, and this weekend, a few good men will trade their guns and combat boots for roles in the fanciful tale ---- despite some initial teasing from their comrades.

"It's no biggie to me ---- I've dealt with the stereotypes," said Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Francisco Correa, the leading man in a production of "The Nutcracker" that will be performed Saturday and Sunday at the Burton Center for the Performing Arts at Fallbrook High School.

"If anybody thinks this is something for sissies, I invite them to come and try a class," Correa added.

In the production, being staged by the Ballet Society of North County, Correa has two roles: He plays the godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer, who gives a nutcracker to young Clara for Christmas; and the animated nutcracker in the second act.

His performance is replete with ballet steps and moves that he said came naturally after watching his mother and sister dance while he was growing up. His participation in dance came a bit later.

"I read an article in Men's Health (magazine) about '99 things I want to do before I die,' " Correa said Tuesday before rehearsal. "So I made my list, and one of the things on there is 'Perform as a ballet dancer.' I grew up seeing it around my house, so it just seems right."

Correa is not the only Marine to grace the cast of "The Nutcracker" this weekend, said the show's director, Jackie Hepner. Several female Marines who are students at Hepner's Brandon Street studio helped recruit some of their male counterparts to pitch in on one key scene.

"It's always a problem, when we do the party scene in 'The Nutcracker,' to find men to escort the women, because there are adults in that scene," Hepner said.

She said her female Marine students helped recruit six tough guys for that scene, which opens the ballet and sets the stage for the elaborate tale that follows.

In full Marine Corps dress, she explained, they will dance their way on and off the stage.

"I think what Rachel told them was, 'You're going to be around all of these cute girls,'" said Hepner, referring to one of the leading ladies who also serves in the Marines.

"They're having a ball and they're so cute with the kids (who are playing) the little soldiers," she said. "(The Marines) were showing them how to hold a rifle ---- little girls don't have any clue how to hold it ---- and how to present arms when they're attacking the mice."

Correa said that he was teased at first when the men in his unit found out that he danced ballet. But he added that the positive things dancing has yielded in his life far outweigh the playful jeers he has had to endure.

"I kind of kept it quiet at first, because I didn't want to deal with (criticism)," he said. "But now, everybody in my work section knows this is what I do, and nobody gives me a hard time here, within my unit.

"I just took a physical fitness test and scored really high," he continued. "I've had two surgeries, and this has been the best rehab for my leg."

The Ballet Society of North County will present three performances of "The Nutcracker" this weekend, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets cost $12 and are available in advance at the society's studio, 325 N. Brandon Road.

Contact staff writer Tom Pfingsten at (760) 731-5799 or tpfingsten@nctimes.com.


Marine Staff Sgt. Francisco Correa, who is starring in the Ballet Society of North County's production of 'The Nutcracker' this weekend, rehearses Monday at the society's studio on Brandon Road in Fallbrook.