CAROLINA BALLET TO CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAY SEASON WITH THE MAGIC OF NUTCRACKER
RALEIGH, NC — With the success of Carolina Ballet’s “new” Nutcracker last season, artistic director Robert Weiss decided to expand the run of the annual holiday favorite for the company’s 15th anniversary season to include Thanksgiving weekend 2012. “Many families come into town for Thanksgiving,” says Weiss, “so we wanted to be sure they had a chance to see our new show if they weren’t going to get back for Christmas.” Carolina Ballet will present Nutcracker, accompanied by live orchestra for all performances, at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium (RMA), November 23-25 and December 14-23; and at DPAC, in Durham, December 29 & 30. The schedule of performances is:
Friday, Saturday & Sunday, November 23-25, 2012 at 2pm each day
Friday, December 14 at 7:30pm
Saturday, December 15, at 2 & 7:30pm
Sunday, December 16, at 12:30 & 4:30pm
Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday, December 18-20 at 7:30pm each day
Friday & Saturday, December 21 & 22, at 2 & 7:30pm both days
Sunday, December 23, at 2pm
At Memorial Hall
Saturday December 1at 2pm & 8pm
Sunday, December 2 at 2pm
Saturday, December 29 at 7pm
Sunday, December 30 at 2pm
After ten successful seasons of presenting nearly 200 performances of Carolina Ballet’s traditional Nutcracker, artistic director Robert Weiss decided in 2011 to make some changes to the annual holiday program with new scenery, designed by Jeff A.R. Jones; and grand illusions for the Party Scene of Act I. Weiss approached several magicians with his idea, but it wasn’t until he came upon Rick Thomas, one of the top magicians working in Las Vegas, that he found what he was looking for – someone who would offer the “wow factor” without taking anything away from the elegance of the Victorian Christmas Eve scene. Not only had Rick Thomas been in the magic business with nightly shows in Las Vegas for twenty-plus years, but he and his sister had been junior ballroom dancing champions, giving him a true appreciation of music and dance. Weiss said “he understood the music and the music is very important, we just couldn’t stop the show and put the tricks in.” Rick Thomas was clear from the outset that he was not going to create a magic show, saying “we designed this where the magic was woven into the story rather than it being a magic show…I think we nailed it.”
The Party Scene in Act I of Nutcracker centers around the mysterious Herr Drosselmeyer, a toymaker and godfather to the Stahlbaum’s daughter, Clara. He arrives at the party with his nephew and proceeds to entertain the guests with wonderful illusions – grand scale magic, replacing the standard parlor tricks – culminating with a special guest appearing out of a giant book to give Clara the Nutcracker doll Drosselmeyer has made for her. What most people don’t realize is that Tchaikovsky wrote the magic sections into the original score, therefore adding “real” magic wasn’t changing anything it was just enhancing what was already there.
The magic during the Party Scene isn’t the only magic going on in Nutcracker. There is plenty of magic behind the scenes getting the show ready. It all starts in early September when more than two hundred children line up around the building of Carolina Ballet’s studios to get their chance to audition for a role in Nutcracker. There are 67 roles for children in a cast which includes the Party children, Truffles, Soldiers, Mice, Gingerbread Cookies, Arabian attendants, and of course Clara and her little brother, Fritz. Rehearsals begin right after the auditions with Lori Christman Bourtasenkov working her own magic throughout the fall to get the 130-plus children ready for the stage. “Being in Nutcracker was a dream come true for me when I was a little boy,” says Robert Weiss. “These children work hard and by the time we get to the stage they are really good. They know their counts and their spots. It isn’t easy but they do a terrific job.” The professional dancers of Carolina Ballet are the glitz and the glamour but the children are an integral part. Without them, there would be no Nutcracker.
Ticket prices for Nutcracker range from $20-80 and may be purchased by calling the Carolina Box Office at 919 719-0900; through Ticketmaster at 800 982-2787; or at Carolina Ballet’s website. For Chapel Hill call 919 843-3333.