LINCOLNTON - The bulk of the cast in the Lincoln County youth production of “The Nutcracker” have been in the performance since they were little. Many starting out in the roles of mice or bon bons and working their way up to more advanced roles over the years. This year’s Nutcracker is not only brand new to the production, he’s also new to ballet.
A senior at Lincolnton High School, Jadon Rhyne decided in his junior year that he was going to major in musical theater in college, so he decided he needed to learn how to dance.
“I went to Xtreme Edge in Lincolnton and started with Miss Kim (Noles) to learn ballet,” he said. “I began with ballet because that’s where all dance comes from. I fell in love with it. Around September I applied for the Nutcracker and was the only guy. I started doing more dance at Star Struck and here I am.”
Because of COVID restrictions, Rhyne only took a few classes in 2020 and more early in 2021. He’s now dancing with a vengeance in preparation for his role as the Nutcracker. It’s frequently a challenge for the organizers of the local production to find a male to dance the role of the Nutcracker. When director Mary Claire Brown saw that one had applied for the role, she was thrilled. Because the production has progressed to the level that it has over the past few years, if a local dancer didn’t apply for the role, they were set to hire someone.
“I knew I had to do it to make it on Broadway,” said Rhyne who has been accepted at the South Carolina School of the Arts. “If you’re scared to do something, you’ll never get to where you want to be in life.”
Rhyne has never seen the local production of “The Nutcracker” in person, but he’s been watching other performances to learn the role. Juggling his time has been a challenge over the past few months because in addition to “Nutcracker” preparation, he was cast in a lead role in the Lincolnton High School Murder Mystery Theater and of course he still has his regular studies.
“In musical theater, you have your voice, you have dance and you have acting,” he said. “In Nutcracker, you just dance, but there’s some facial expressions. I’m also in the party scene and there’s some acting there.”
At the South Carolina School of Arts, Rhyne plans to continue with dance instruction. While he’s tremendously physically fit, as he has to be for this role, Rhyne wasn’t really into sports in high school.
“I was very impressed with Jadon,” Brown said. “He was over with Kim, and he decided on his own to audition for the ‘Nutcracker.’ When I saw his application, I said to myself, ‘oh my goodness, I have a boy.’ He’s the only boy who applied this year. This is our third year with a boy in the role, but I thought I was going to have to hire someone this year. Jadon was an answer to prayer.”
Jadon is a tall, well-built young man and very easy on the eyes, Brown added.
“Most importantly, he has the kindest heart,” she said. “He wants to please all of his teachers and everyone else. He’s one of the most talented young men I’ve ever seen. He’s hungry to learn about dance and how to dance and where there’s a will, there’s a way. He comes to multiple ballet classes with me throughout the week. He’s putting in the work and hard work always pays off. I’m very proud of him.”
Tickets to this year’s production of “The Nutcracker” are available both online and through the Lincoln Cultural Center. Almost 90 local students of dance and a team supporting actors, crew and choreographers take part in bringing this production to the stage every year for more than a decade. There will be four performances: Friday, Dec. 10 at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 11 at 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 12 at 3 p.m. To purchase tickets online, visit www.eventbrite.com and search for the Lincoln Cultural Center. The performance is at the James W. Warren Citizens Center is located at 115 West Main Street in Lincolnton. Tickets are $10.