Ballet in a Prologue, Two Acts and Three Scenes

Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky
Choreography by Kevin McKenzie
Libretto by Wendy Wasserstein
Scenery by Paul Kelly
Costumes by Theoni V. Aldredge
Associate to Mrs. Aldredge: Barbara Matera
Lighting by Thomas R. Skelton and Rui Rita

Act 1 - 45:00
Act 2 - 42:00

World Premiere: Performance (of current staging) December 12, 2000 Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D. C. Sandra Brown as Clara, Angel Corella as the Nutcracker-Prince, Victor Barbee as Drosselmeyer, Julie Kent as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Ethan Stiefel as Her Cavalier, Gillian Murphy as the Snow Queen, Yan Chen as the Dew Drop.

World Premiere (1993 staging): Orange County Performing Arts Center, Costa Mesa, California, 12/3/93.
Original Cast: Yan Chen (Clara), Robert Wallace (Nutcracker-Prince), Victor Barbee (Drosselmeyer), Julie Kent (Sugar Plum Fairy), Robert Hill (Cavalier), Christina Fagundes (Snow Queen), Kathleen Moore (Dew Drop)

Prologue – Drosselmeyer’s Workshop:
Godpapa Drosselmeyer knows all about clocks and watches, and every Christmas he brings something delightful for all the children. This year, he loads his toy chest with Russian, Arabian, and sock dolls and his most precious possession, the wooden Nutcracker, for his god-child Clara.

Act One, Scene 1 - The Party:
Clara Silverhouse is a girl with a rich imagination. While her parents prepare for their holiday guests, Clara has a private tea party for her doll family: Gertrude with the giant ringlets, Pippa the big game hunter and Heidi the Swiss Miss doll. It’s a lovely party until Clara’s pesty little brother Fritz comes along and ruins things. But just then, Mama and Papa give the children permission to enter the Christmas party.
The Silverhouse home never looks as beautiful as it does at Christmas. Everyone in the neighborhood comes by: Clara’s sweet Aunt Caroline, her Uncle Piers with their very well mannered sons, Peter the bully and his bully family, the Goldwassers of Goldwasser department store in matching Goldwasser velvets, and finally, the Hals family with their four children, exactly like stacking dolls, one shorter than the other. When Drosselmeyer arrives, it is time to light the Christmas tree, and the radiance of its glow overwhelms Clara. Drosselmeyer hides the Nutcracker behind the presents. Drosselmeyer distributes gifts to the children, and entertains them with his magical dolls. That’s when Clara discovers the Nutcracker under the tree. Drosselmeyer explains the glories of the wooden-headed Nutcracker to Clara by placing a nut in its mouth and cracking it open. Clara is thrilled until Peter the bully breaks the Nutcracker’s jaw. Luckily, Clara is a gifted nurse and gently places the Nutcracker in a bed from the doll cabinet. The guests finally depart and the Silverhouse family goes to bed.

Act One, Scene 2 - The Battle:
As the clock strikes midnight Clara is startled by mice. Suddenly, she sees Drosselmeyer’s face in the clock. Even stranger, the tree begins to grow and grow until the cranberry and popcorn strings are the size of cannonballs. Clara is certain things will never be the same when Pippa, Gertrude and Heidi introduce themselves. The dolls begin to dance, but stop as rats with mean faces, even meaner than the bully family, creep into the room. Clara and the dolls bravely ward off the rats, but they are cornered. And that’s when the Nutcracker, full-sized and strong, swoops into action! He summons all the toy soldiers into battle, but his troops retreat because they don’t want to get their costumes dirty. The rats attack the Nutcracker, and the dolls – led by Pippa the big game hunter – do everything they can to protect him. The meanest rat of them all, the evil Rat King, the very same one from Drosselmeyer’s story at the Christmas party, battles the brave soldier. The Nutcracker courageously falls and Clara hurls herself forward to protect him from a mortal blow. That’s when everything in the room begins to fade. Clara is surprised to find her Nutcracker safe and well and very grateful to her. When Clara expresses her compassion for the Nutcracker, the old Rat King curse is removed. The wooden-headed Nutcracker transforms into a handsome prince. Clara takes the prince on a journey with her to the very same world of beauty and grace as that of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Drosselmeyer wishes them well as he sends them off on the first leg of their journey – the Land of Snow.

Act Two – The Journey:
As Clara and the Nutcracker travel together, winter turns to spring, and then they go on to Spain, Arabia, China and Russia, where the stacking dolls very much resemble the Hals children at the Silverhouse Christmas party. Finally they arrive at the Land of the Flowers and Clara is introduced to the Sugar Plum Fairy, the ballerina of her dreams. After a joyous celebration, Clara suddenly finds herself alone in her room. Was it all a dream? She will share the joy of her imagination with her Nutcracker.
-Wendy Wasserstein

American Ballet Theatre’s first production of The Nutcracker, choreographed by Mikhail Baryshnikov, received its first performance at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D. C. on December 21, 1976. Baryshnikov’s production received its New York premiere at the Metropolitan Opera House on May 18, 1977.
A previous staging of Kevin McKenzie’s production of The Nutcracker received its World Premiere at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, California on December 3, 1993. This new staging of The Nutcracker was given its World Premiere at the Kennedy Center on December
12, 2000.


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