If you go
What: "The Nutcracker"
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m., 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $25 to $55
Info: www.theclaycenter.org or 304-561-3570
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Ted Brightwell and Joey Ansel have been dancing together for 10 years, although audiences never get a glimpse of Ansel and they get only a heavily gussied up version of Brightwell's upper half.
"I've danced for 10 years and nobody's ever seen me," Ansel said.
Last year, he had friends videotape him from backstage - proof that he is part of the Charleston Ballet and West Virginia Symphony production of "The Nutcracker."
While he and Brightwell are celebrating their 10th anniversary together in the production, Brightwell figures this is his 16th year playing the part of Mother Ginger, ever since Charleston Ballet director Kim Pauley asked him to do it.
"Miss Pauley knew that I did drag," said Brightwell, who co-owns Visions Day Spa and performs in a weekly drag act at The Broadway in Charleston. "The role is traditionally played by a man."
Brightwell put his own stamp on the part and his look, which includes campy makeup, oversized false eyelashes, a big red wig and, shall we say, a dramatic bosom.
"Bigger is better," Brightwell said, adding younger dancers are usually fascinated by his wig and bosom.
"They'll look at them and I'll tease them - 'Go ahead and touch them,' " he said.