The show will go on: Naples Academy of Ballet forced to hire a new prop maker for ‘The Nutcracker’

— Clara will still have visions of Sugar Plum Fairies at the Naples Academy of Ballet even though a man paid to build the sets didn’t follow through.

The organizers of “The Nutcracker” performance unfortunately had to pay double for props for the show, academy owner Toshiko Tompkins said.

In September, the Naples Academy of Ballet paid Luke Schweikle $1,612 to build the sets for “The Nutcracker,” including two large boxes, swords, a key and a sleigh. The total cost of the wooden props was estimated at $3,200.

But, by the middle of October, Tompkins said they hadn’t received the work and Schweikle did not answer their phone calls.

When staff saw the first finished product — a box — it wasn’t well done, said Marilo Campos, Naples Academy of Ballet administrator.

Campos said Schweikle was recommended by a local theater and no background check had been done.

The dancers were ready so staff had to hire another carpenter to build the props. The Naples Academy of Ballet hired Damien Therrian, who has worked for the academy in the past. The cost for props is expected to be more than $3,200.

Schweikle could not be reached for comment.

Tompkins said she would file a lawsuit if Schweikle didn’t reimburse her.

“The show will keep going,” Campos said.

The studio is expected to have all of the props by Wednesday, including a 7-foot box, a 2-foot-tall key and an 8-foot clock.

For two months, sometimes five hours a night, dancers have been practicing for the performance.

“We are just very relieved,” said Suzanne Dutcher, whose 14-year-old daughter Taylor is performing. “The kids are just excited to be back on track.”

Dutcher said one often thinks these types of things won’t happen to children who have been working so hard.

“The Nutcracker” will be presented by Naples Ballet Inc., a nonprofit organization started by Naples Academy of Ballet, on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 5 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 13, at noon at the Gulf Coast High School auditorium, 7878 Shark Way, Naples. Tickets range from $15 to $30.

For ticket information, call Naples Ballet Inc. at 732-1000, e-mail or visit

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Connect with Tracy X. Miguel at

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