The Wilton Dance Studio\u2019s production of The Nutcracker Ballet, now in its 18th year, is a full-scale show that features more than 80 students and adults from seven area towns including more than 40 from Wilton, plus professional sets and costumes. This year\u2019s production will be performed on Sunday, Dec. 6, \u00a0at 1 and 4:30 p.m. at Wilton High School\u2019s Clune Center for the Performing Arts. Three Wilton High School seniors dance leading roles this year: Michele Assef, Jackie Cahill and Jason Collins. Elizabeth Vermeulen, an 11-year-old from Wilton in her eighth year at the studio, plays the role of Clara this year. Contributing extra magic to this year\u2019s production are several dancers with special stories behind their performances. The first of these is Will Northrup, a 19-year-old developmentally challenged young man from Onsted, Mich. Brenda Froehlich, a Wilton native and artistic director of the studio that has been in Wilton for 26 years, explained how Will came to be part of the ballet this year. \u201cWill is friend of a friend who learned we produce our own Nutcracker every year,\u201d \u00a0Froehlich said. \u201cHe begged his mom to get him a copy of our Nutcracker DVD. Upon receiving the copy, he watched it endlessly. When we learned of his complete and utter fascination with the ballet, we extended him an invitation to come to Connecticut to share the onstage magic that is The Nutcracker. He has been practicing the adult dances with his Michigan teacher using the DVD as their guide for the choreography, and will join our rehearsals in person the week before the show. We are delighted to help fulfill one of Will\u2019s dancing dreams.\u201d The three Wilton seniors performing in this year\u2019s show are looking forward to their last student Nutcracker performance, and to creating the dance magic the audience loves. Michele Assef, who dances several roles this year, described how she has come to appreciate different aspects of the performance over time: \u201cWhat makes each Nutcracker so special is not the performance itself, but rather the months of rehearsal leading up to it. We see all the hard work that goes into the production. When I was younger, I was concerned with learning where I personally needed to be during the show. As I grew older, it gradually became my responsibility to help the younger dancers manage these things.\u201d Jason Collins, a senior who will perform as the Snow King, said, \u201cThe Snow King is especially important to me because this will be my first time performing as a cavalier and participating in a pas de deux. I'm enjoying having the experience of partnering, and I'm learning a lot from it.\u201d \u00a0 Renee Cahill is the parent of senior dancer Jackie Cahill. She\u2019s been involved as a backstage mom for The Nutcracker for 12 years. She said of her Nutcracker experience, \u201cUnlike the ones on TV, real dance moms are a tight group of women who believe in supporting their children. It\u2019s not all about bobby pins and tutus. It\u2019s psychiatry, encouragement and a commitment to building a positive, healthy environment for our dancers.\u201d Elizabeth Vermeulen, who plays Clara this year, said of finding out she had the role: \u201cI was very excited! I couldn\u2019t believe that I had gotten the role. I had wanted to be Clara for a very long time. My favorite thing about The Nutcracker is the party scene. I really like all the costumes and it is fun to dance in. It\u2019s festive and gets me excited for the holidays.\u201d Parents of dancers have an opportunity to share the Nutcracker magic when they perform as guests in the opening party scene. \u201cMy husband and I and both of our daughters have been in the show, and for four years we were all in the show together,\u201d said Cindy Finnecy of Wilton. \u201cWe got involved originally because when Brenda asked our oldest daughter, Caitlyn, to be in the show, my daughter said she\u2019d only be in it if I was. That was 16 years ago. Now our younger daughter, Kirsten, is dancing in the role of lead Spanish. It\u2019s been fun to do something special with both of our daughters, and you get to play dress up in a beautiful costume!\u201d \u00a0 Wilton Dance Studio welcomes the return of Peter Nevin in the role of the Nutcracker Prince. He joined Wilton Dance Studio\u2019s teaching staff for ballet in the fall of 2014, and was a guest dancer in the Nutcracker Prince role for the studio in 2007 and 2008. Nevin began his training and performing career in 1985 with the Westchester Ballet Company. He first performed as a guest dancer for the Wichita Falls Ballet Theatre (WFBT) in 1992 and joined the company as a principal soloist in 1994. He also danced principal roles in Harem Scarum, Hi-Tek Aztec, and Tapestry, which were designed for him by choreographer Ron Cunningham of the Sacramento Ballet Company. \u00a0 The performance length is described as manageable for young children, and they are welcome. The ballet follows the traditional story of Clara and her Nutcracker prince from E.T.A. Hoffmann\u2019s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, with music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. \u00a0 To buy tickets, call 203-544-9007 and leave a message or order at www.wiltondance.com, click on \u201cNutcracker Performances,\u201d and download and print the ticket order form. Tickets are also available at the door on the day of the show.