When Vincent Marini offered me the chance to come home – both to Flat Rock and to Flat Rock Playhouse – to reinvent The Nutcracker, I knew immediately that I wanted to create a Nutcracker that only Flat Rock Playhouse could deliver, that would be completely particular to this region, fashioned for just this stage, and made with this audience in mind.
Fascinated by the unusual opportunity to create a Nutcracker for a theater company instead of for a ballet company, I was determined that my adaptation would – without the use of language – be highly narrative and character-driven, and that I’d employ a wide range of dance techniques, action and even puppetry in the service of our physical storytelling. In adapting both Hoffmann’s story Nutcracker and Mouse King and Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker, I knew I wanted to include iconic elements from each (a young heroine, a holiday party, a mysterious toymaker or craftsman, mice – or at least a mouse, magical gifts, a Christmas tree, a battle scene, snowflakes, flowers, a Nutcracker, a Sugar Plum Fairy and, of course, that glorious score), yet I wanted to deploy those elements in fresh ways that would serve our specific storytelling purposes while also meeting the audience’s visual and musical expectations of The Nutcracker.
In pursuit of those goals, I recruited some very special collaborators: first and foremost, my husband and Emmy Award-winning music director Rob Berman, who has created an intimate new adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s score which I think strikes the perfect balance between classical grandeur and homespun Appalachian charm; second, my friend the legendary costume designer Ann Hould-Ward, Tony Award-winner for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, whose clever, whimsical, gorgeous designs have fleshed out my characters in ways I never could have anticipated; third, the wonderful set designer Dennis C. Maulden, whose smart and sumptuous work I have been admiring on the Flat Rock stage since my youth; fourth, twelve fiercely talented, sophisticated, funny, musical, intelligent, independent, exemplary dancer-actors from my own company as well as from the companies and shows of Michael Bennett, Matthew Bourne, Cirque du Soleil, Garth Fagan, Mark Morris, MOMIX, Jerome Robbins and Twyla Tharp, to name just a few; and, last but not least, all of the wonderful resident and guest artists, artisans and staff here on the Rock who have given so tirelessly and so selflessly to bring our unique production to fruition, most especially the truly indefatigable Josh Christopher and Micki Weiner, without whom this would not have been possible.
Having devoted ten years of study and nearly fifteen years of work to my belief in the power of dance as theater, it’s my tremendous pleasure to offer you the very first work of pure dance theater in Flat Rock Playhouse’s 60-year history, which I genuinely hope will surprise, delight and entertain you and your family this holiday season.