Yukon’s ‘Nutcracker’ breaks audience record

27th annual ballet dances into Yukon’s Christmas season

In Central Oklahoma Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker, professional guest artists Jameson Keating and Kara Troester Blythe perform the Arabian Coffee dance. Seated behind them is featured guest artist Danielle Archuleta, who performed the role of Clara. Local performers for this dance were Gabi Hudspeth, Lorelai Sharp, Abigail Ankrom, Lilly Thomas, and Mara Bartels. (Photo by Allie Overton)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

Record crowds came to Yukon in early December to watch Central Oklahoma Ballet’s majestic production of a Christmas classic.

“The Nutcracker” was performed in Yukon to the largest audiences ever Dec. 3-4 inside the Yukon Fine Arts Center, 850 Yukon Ave.

Nearly a dozen professional guest artists shared the auditorium stage with local company dancers for the 27th annual Yukon Nutcracker. The Oklahoma Community Orchestra performed the classic Nutcracker music of composer Peter I. Tchaikovsky.

“This was one of the best Nutcrackers we’ve ever had,” said Yukon’s Debra Doran Vossen, Central Oklahoma Ballet’s artistic director. “We had rave reviews and so many people told me how good this year’s performances were.

“Our attendance was up again. … The audience response was really good, and they gave a standing ovation.”

Central Oklahoma Ballet President Allie Overton confirmed this year’s Yukon Nutcracker had the largest crowds ever based on ticket sales.

Some audience members even sat in the balcony for Sunday afternoon’s final performance.

Professional dancers came from Colorado and Oklahoma City Ballet. The featured artists and roles they danced in Yukon’s Nutcracker were:

  • Danielle Archuleta – Clara
  • Joseph Hetzer – Nutcracker and Cavalier
  • Oslaniel Castillo – Soldier Doll and Russian
  • Nicholas Keeperman – Mouse King and Spanish Chocolate
  • Kara Troester Blythe – Snow Queen and Arabian Coffee
  • Maya Odaka – Sugar Plum Fairy
  • Flannery Werner – Spanish Chocolate and Dewdrop
  • Jameson Keating – Arabian Coffee
  • Randolph Fernandez – Chinese Tea

These guest performers appeared on stage with Central Oklahoma Ballet’s local company dancers, who auditioned in August and spent several months rehearsing to perfect their roles.

More professionals than ever danced in the 2022 Yukon Nutcracker.

“We had 12 in all,” Vossen said. “This year’s group was just super. I was real, real pleased with everything.”

Other headline performers included Christopher Day as Godfather Drosselmeyer, Chelsea Nebe as Harlequin Doll, Allison Soper as Kissy Doll, and Ginger LaCroix as Mother Ginger.

The Cavalier (Joseph Hetzer) and the Sugar Plum Fairy (Mayu Odaka) take the Yukon Fine Arts Center stage to dance in the Land of the Sweets for the second act of Yukon’s Nutcracker. (Photo by Allie Overton)
Featured guest artists Danielle Archuleta (as Clara) and Joseph Hetzer (as the Nutcracker) entertain the large Yukon audience. (Photo by Allie Overton)
Featured guest artist Kara Troester Blythe dances the role of the Snow Queen during the first-act finale in Central Oklahoma Ballet’s Yukon Nutcracker. Joining her on stage for this dance were local company dancers Allison Soper, Chelsea Nebe, Finnigan Cring, Lola Yanda, Madelyn Shropshire, Avery Hansen, Gabi Hudspeth, and Abigail Ankrom. (Photo by Allie Overton)
Professional guest artist Oslaniel Castillo earns the greatest ovation during Yukon’s Nutcracker production with his performance in the Russian dance. (Photo by Allie Overton)


The non-profit Central Oklahoma Ballet provides young ballet dancers the opportunity to gain performance experience in a professional setting, according to Overton.

“We rely on a committed group of volunteers to bring this production to the stage,” she said. “It is this level of community involvement that allows COB to continue to develop.”

Overton offered special thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts, Oklahoma Arts Council, Bud and Maggie Fuchs, along with patrons, corporate sponsors and the Oklahoma Community Orchestra.

Vossen also thanked Yukon Public Schools, Yukon Fine Arts Center director Wes McAtee, Yukon High School’s stage crew, City of Yukon, YNB Bank, cast members and parents.

First performed in 1892, The Nutcracker remains one of the most popular ballets.

Yukon’s first community production was in 1994 inside the small auditorium at the Yukon Museum and Arts Center (Old Central School), 601 Oak.

For nearly 25 years, Yukon’s Nutcracker has been staged inside the Yukon Fine Arts Center’s 2,965-seat auditorium.

“The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition and contains some of the most beautiful music ever written,” Vossen said.

Professional guest artist Randolph Fernandez earns loud applause from the audience while performing the Chinese Tea dance in Yukon’s Nutcracker ballet production. Seated behind is Clara (Danielle Archuleta). Local performers for this dance were Haylee Hutchcraft, Avery Hansen and Madelyn Shropshire. (Photo by Allie Overton)
The always-popular Mother Ginger prepares to unveil her dancing cookies (Bianca Snder, Layla Major, Emma Shackelford, and Taylor Endsley). Yukon storyteller Ginger LaCroix has performed this role since Yukon’s Nutcracker debuted in 1994. (Photo by Allie Overton)
Featured guest artist Oslaniel Castillo dances the role of the Soldier Doll in the opening Christmas party scene of Central Oklahoma Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” in Yukon. Directly behind the Soldier Doll are Godfather Drosselmeyer (Christopher Day) and some of the party guests. (Photo by Allie Overton)
Dewdrop (Flannery Werner) is featured during the Dance of the Flowers in the Land of the Sweets. She performs alongside local company dancers Finnigan Cring, Lola Yanda, Chelsea Nebe, Allison Soper, Gabi Hudspeth, Avery Hansen, Abigail Ankrom, and Madelynn Shropshire. (Photo by Allie Overton)