When Everett’s Vera Barrett and her daughter, Gabriella, opened up an e-mail last month from the Boston Ballet School concerning the Nutcracker casting decisions, it was more than just a surprise.
It was a double surprise.
That’s because in this year’s production of the Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker, 10-year-old Gabriella Barrett will not only play the part of a mouse, but also the sought-after part of a Polichinelle (also known as a “Polli”). The Polichinelle dancers are part of the comedy relief in the Nutcracker production in that they come out of the huge dress of Mother Ginger and do a lively dance before disappearing once again under the gigantic dress.
“We opened up the e-mail and couldn’t believe what we saw,” said Vera.
“I thought my mom was kidding at first when she told me they had me cast for two parts. It was very exciting. I have wanted to be a Polichinelle for a long, long time. That’s been my dream part.”
Gabriella is a veteran student at the Boston Ballet School in Boston’s South End – coming and going to the school at least twice a week. It is her fifth year at the school and she is currently in the Elementary 3 level.
With her study at the School comes the yearly opportunity to try out for and possibly be cast in the Boston Ballet’s beloved Christmas tradition – the Nutcracker.
This year is the third year she has participated, having been a mouse and a page in previous years, but it is the first time she has had two parts.
Gabriella will also be in Cast A for the production, which means she will be participating in the opening night production, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve – typically the biggest audiences in the show’s run.
She will also be dancing on her birthday, Dec. 11, also.
At the Keverian School, where she is a 5th grader, Gabriella said there is a fair amount of excitement from her teachers and classmates. In fact, last year Keverian Principal John Obremski attended one of her shows.
“My teachers are telling the whole class about it and Mr. Obremski is talking about it too,” said Gabriella.
One might think that a 10-year-old might be a little nervous in front of such crowds, but Gabriella said it doesn’t seem so bad once up on stage.
“It’s hard to see everyone,” she said. “The lights are so bright and then all the sudden it doesn’t feel like so many people are watching you – you just start to dance your part. So, I’m not really all that nervous at all. I’m just very excited. When I grow up, I want to try to make a career out of dance.”
In total, Gabriella will dance the dual parts in 15 shows, including the Opening Night show in Boston’s Opera House on Nov. 28th.
The Barretts will likely have their hands full with the rehearsals and shows – with some rehearsals being a 7-hour affair on the weekends. However, Vera and husband, Billy Barrett, also have three boys to support as well.
Sons William and Brandon participate in the Everett High School band and play soccer and cross country. Another son, Matthew, is in 7th grade. It’s a full plate for the two parents.
“Some days are easy and some are not,” said Vera. “It takes two. Sometimes my husband, Billy, will be with the boys and I’ll come in with her to class and rehearsals. Sometimes we switch. We’re all coming in to see her on Opening Night and we’re very excited to support her.”