Austin’s Ovation Ballet Company returned to the stage to perform a 13th installment of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker to a sold-out crowd at Festival Hill in Round Top last weekend. The ballet, which has been a mainstay of the performance venue’s August-to-April Series since 2008, was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Which made its 2021 return even sweeter.

“I think the local community is happy every year when Nutcracker season rolls around. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing happy, talented, disciplined young dancers having the time of their lives entertaining a sold-out crowd in the most beautiful jewel box ever – the Festival Hill Concert Hall?” – Libby Lovejoy, producer of Ovations’ Nutcracker notes in the new book, Festival Hill at Fifty.

Lovejoy notes that the stunning Festival Hill concert hall stage was decorated for the season with 40 red poinsettias, dialing up the festiveness of the detailed scenery and props created for the performance. The 2021 show included new choreography for the dance for the parents in Act I. The Snow Scene in Act I also featured new choreography. In Act II, the BonBons wore new costumes and performed fresh choreography.

New lighting design further enhanced the magic of the beloved ballet. Round Top Festival Institute Program Director Alain Declert conveyed special praise for the lighting, which was an integral part of the ballet experience. “Special kudos to the lighting designer Nicolay Korygin who has been part of the show as a dancer in previous years and, now a student at the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Texas in Austin.”

The Ovation Ballet Company cast is comprised completely of kids ranging in age from third grade through high school seniors, except for the role of Herr Drosselmeyer. Adult guest artist Chris Ehresman reprised that role for his seventh guest appearance with Ovation in The Nutcracker. He also plays the Arabian lead in Act II.

Guest artist Chris Eheresman of Ovation Ballet Company

“The audience was very receptive with much applause throughout the ballet and at the end during final bows,” Lovejoy tells “The dancers are already looking forward to returning to the beautiful Festival Hill concert hall stage next December.” 

The highly anticipated ballet sold out in early November. There is only one performance offered at Festival Hill each season. “Each year, just before the production, The Festival Hill office gets many last minute calls from frantic parents trying to get tickets when sadly there are none to be had,” Lovejoy notes.

If you want to see The Nutcracker at Festival Hill next December, you’ll need to plan ahead. This is one of Round Top’s hottest tickets for good reason.