Ridgefield 'Nutcracker' performers are father and daughter on and off stage: 'It just means a lot'

Ridgefield father Peter Getchell and his daughter Josie will be dancing together in the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance's annual production of "The Nutcracker" this December.

Ridgefield father Peter Getchell and his daughter Josie will be dancing together in the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance's annual production of "The Nutcracker" this December.

Contributed Photo

RIDGEFIELD — Art will imitate life this December as Peter Getchell of Ridgefield dances with his daughter Josie Getchell in the roles of Clara and her father in the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance’s annual production of “The Nutcracker.”

The Conservatory is where Josie’s love of dancing took root, her father said. Getchell said Josie’s first introduction to dance was with the Conservatory when she was 2 and that she’s been dancing ever since, performing different variations of dance and different roles in “The Nutcracker.”

Performed annually at the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance, “The Nutcracker” is “a tradition that runs very deep in our community in Ridgefield,” said Mary Beth Hansohn, a ballet teacher at the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance. Hansohn said this is her second year directing “The Nutcracker” at the Conservatory, and this year’s production has about 76 participants.

Rehearsals for “The Nutcracker” run through December and the show will be performed at The Ridgefield Playhouse at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.  Dec. 10 and Dec. 11 and at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Dec. 12.

This year’s production will be Josie’s first time performing as the main character, Clara — her biggest dancing role to date — though Getchell said she’s “done everything from bumblebees to little mice to more serious roles” in previous Conservatory productions of “The Nutcracker.”

“I love it,” Josie, 12, said of dancing the role of Clara. “It is so much fun — I love being able to dance with all the amazing people at the company. It just means a lot.”

Getchell said he was asked to fill in for the role of Clara’s father in last year’s production of “The Nutcracker.” He started getting involved with some of the volunteer work at the Conservatory last year.

“The role of the father is not so much a dancing scene, I would say” Getchell said. “I kind of would call it advanced gesturing.”

“There’s a lot of acting and Pete’s a natural actor,” Hansohn said.” “He’s a good storyteller. That’s the thing about 'Nutcracker' — since it’s a story ballet, there’s a lot of acting involved, which is so nice… because I can see with each performance and each rehearsal, I can see the story become clearer and clearer among everyone, and getting to watch backstage each show progress that way, every dancer’s skills are honed.”

While Getchell incorporates acting skills into his role, Hansohn said Josie dances throughout the entire production.

“She’s in basically every scene,” Hansohn said of Josie. “She has a wide range of acting skills to cover… she goes through so many emotions. It’s really amazing for someone her age to get to experience that.”

“She’s been working very hard,” Hansohn continued. “She would come in extra hours on the weekend… I saw her drive last year and her improvements that she’s made and all of it has been a wonderful recipe for Clara.”

Hansohn said Josie will be sharing the role of Clara with another Conservatory student, Caitlyn Powers. She said the girls have trained together for several years and have exhibited outstanding work ethic.

“They’re both very serious about their craft,” Hansohn said, “and to me, that goes such a long way because it’s so rewarding to work with students who take their craft seriously and dedicate so many hours to the artistry of this role… I can’t wait to see both Josie and Caitlyn on stage — it’s going to be very rewarding.”

Getchell said performing with his daughter helps him better understand why she loves to dance, as well as all the hard work that goes into the dance routines.

“That’s what blew me away here,” Getchell said. “There’s a lot more that goes into it, so I was most impressed with that and being able to spend more time with her. I have a new appreciation through the arts.”

Josie said performing with her dad has given her a new perspective on dance. 

“I just think it’s really fun that Josie and Pete are going to be onstage on the same stage together,” Hansohn said. “It’s also a very rare father-daughter act performing together on stage in “The Nutcracker.”

Tickets are on sale and can be purchased on The Ridgefield Playhouse website or by calling the box office at 203-438-5795.