Bob and Sophie Vitale were honored for their community service at the Canton Ballet’s 10th annual Nutcracker Ball held in the Great Court of the Cultural Center for the Arts Friday evening.
Guests saluted the Vitales, longtime supporters of the Canton Ballet, with a champagne toast as they enjoyed the event with their daughters Stephanie Cornell, her husband, Dwayne, Kristen Peterson and her husband, Erik, and Jennifer Deuble and her husband, Max.
Ruth Bazzoli and Regina Merle co-chaired the Nutcracker-themed gala.
“We wanted to make this the best ball ever,” said Bazzoli as she and Merle, along with Cindi Halter and Trace Gilbert greeted 250 guests. Chef Ken Buchholtz and his staff from Brookside Country Club set up an elegant Russian-themed buffet in Cable Recital Hall.
Mary Lou Ianni, attired in her Nutcracker ball gown, said she is delighted her granddaughter, Ellen Chiofolo, 6, will join her onstage in the opening party scene. Paige Henman, 14, and Joey Jocas, 13, added to the atmosphere in their party costumes. Photographer Michael Barath, assisted by Niki Lenhart, snapped photos of guests standing with a giant Nutcracker in the Land of the Sweets, where a delicious array of desserts awaited.
Guests sipped Sugar Plum Martinis as they looked over the dance themed silent auction, and LaFlavour provided musical entertainment. Placing their bids were: Don and Eleanor Hammond, Mike and Linda Gill, Brian and Lindsay Zimmerman, Deby Barath, Chad and Chris Gumpp, Steve and Lisa Mears, Lurene Gasser, Don and Nikki Stock, Tim Belden, Brandon and Brittani Harris, Tom Friedman, and Joe and Joyce Vitale.
Emcee Janet Weir Creighton introduced Artistic and Executive Director Cassandra Crowley, who shared exciting news about the ballet’s upcoming performance of The Nutcracker at the Canton Palace Theatre on Dec. 13, 14 and 15. “This year for the first time we will feature dogs in the opening party scene, — I’m calling it Muttcracker,” Crowley said. She also thanked the Vitales and previous honorees Phil and Judith Lattavo for providing a grant for new costumes for the Nutcracker ballet.
Crowley introduced Bob and Donna Leibensperger attired as Cornelius Aultman and his wife, as she announced the 50th anniversary of Canton’s Nutcracker in 2015 will be set in the 1890s Aultman mansion which once stood where the Cultural Center now stands.
Guests were treated to the opening party scene of The Nutcracker Ballet, and snippets of the performance by members of the Canton Ballet Company. A proud mother, Heather Null, watched her daughter Molly dance, along with her husband, Dr. Chip Null and her parents, Dr. Jim and Donna Powell.
Jay Jones conducted the live auction, and the Canton Ballet Company’s graduating seniors were recognized. Proceeds from the event are used for the Canton Ballet’s scholarship and outreach programs.