'The Nutcracker' is a Story for All Ages
November 28, 2012 at 1:24 PM
Greater Niagara Ballet Company’s (GNBC) “The Nutcracker” has been a festive holiday tradition in the Niagara Community since 1977, and for 33 of those years John Cappello has played the role of Grandfather. At 92 years young, this veteran dancer refuses to slow down and continues to waltz and frolick his way across the stage.
This holiday classic has been seen by children for hundreds of years and inspires dancers of all ages to perform in its fantastic storyline, which centers on a child’s dream on Christmas Eve.
Cappello was not one of those dancers who sought out to perform in “The Nutcracker”, instead GNBC Artistic Director and Founder Beverley Feder asked him to dance the waltz in the party scene. At first he declined, “I know I can learn the dance but the audience may not understand when I speak with my Calabrese (Italian) accent,” he said. Feder assured him that no one speaks in a ballet. His wife Dolly then jokingly replied, “Not speaking will be more of a challenge for John, he can’t stay without talking for longer than a minute.” Cappello accepted the challenge and has succeeded in dazzling audiences for 33 years with his dancing across the stage with a twinkle in his eye and grinning from ear to ear – without breaking silence.
When you ask Cappello what he has enjoyed most about playing Grandfather for three decades he replies, “I love all of the children and parents that I have met over the years. I enjoy watching them enjoy the music and dancing. There have been hundreds of them and yet it gives me a thrill when I am out shopping or in church, and one of the children will come up to me, wrap their arms around me and say, ‘Remember me? You were my Grandpa in The Nutcracker.’ One of my biggest thrills was when I got to waltz with my granddaughter Lora Pietrangeli Ledford. She followed my steps better than any partner I ever had!”
In August 2012 Cappello had outpatient surgery to remove a cancerous lesion on his lower lip. Doctor Perri and the nurses (including the nurse anesthesiologist) were all given the same instruction by Cappello – promise to take good care of him and say prayers that he would be healed by early December. He said, the reason was, “I have to be able to smile without scarred lips when I take my bow to after I dance in ‘The Nutcracker’.”
Cappello’s entire medical team has been invited to attend this year’s performance of “The Nutcracker” and everyone is grateful that Cappello has made a full recovery.
Meet Cappello in Act One’s Party Scene and the rest of “The Nutcracker” cast December 7 and 8, at the Performing Arts Center (Niagara Falls High School). For ticket information visit GNBC.
Michelle Blackley is the Communications Manager at Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation (NTCC). Besides having the pleasure of calling Western New York home, Michelle has lived throughout New York State, including New York City, and abroad in Dublin, Ireland. A Niagara County native, she is a globetrotter at heart. With a background in journalism, book publishing and publicity, she explores Niagara County to report its happenings on the Niagara USA blog. Please contact Michelle at email@example.com or follow her @shellblackley.