Concord audiences can toast season with two takes on ‘Nutcracker’
The New Hampshire School of Ballet performs The Nutcracker at the Concord City Auditorium on Saturday Dec. 20, 2008.
(Concord Monitor photo/William DeShazer)
The Turning Pointe Center of Dance presents "The Nutcracker."
Though they will be using different feet, it’s all the same sugar plums.
The Concord City Auditorium will host the classic Nutcracker ballet two weekends this month, as interpreted by two different dance studios: Turning Pointe Center of Dance in Pembroke and the New Hampshire School of Ballet.
One thing that stays the same is the story. For those who’ve never seen the holiday classic, the show opens on Christmas Eve at the Stahlbaum house. A holiday party is in full swing when the mysterious Godfather Drosselmeyer shows up unexpectedly bearing gifts that include china dolls for the girls, bugles for the boys. The Stahlbaum children also get gifts including a drum for Fritz and a soldier-suit clad nutcracker for Clara.
But Fritz takes the nutcracker, tosses and breaks it. Drosselmeyer’s nephew fixes him up and makes a little bed for the nutcracker beneath the Christmas tree where Clara eventually falls asleep. In her dreams she conjures images of giant mice, battling nutcrackers, cocoa dancers and sugar plum fairies.
“Because I use my entire school, which is 3-year-olds through 18,” said Lisa Drouin Goff, who is choreographing and directing the show for Turning Pointe Center of Dance in Pembroke. “I make sure there are enough parts for all of the kids.”
To that end, the Turning Pointe show, which is all classical ballet, has some added scenes to accommodate her 65 students and 15 male guest dancers.
“The original did not have 3-year-
olds dancing in it, nor did it have 5-year-olds. So I’ve added things to make it more children friendly,” she said.
In Act One, for example, she’s added extra dancing dolls. And as Act One ends, she’s added a few dancing gifts and ornaments which act as a transition between reality and Clara’s dream.
“Just to get a taste of the magic before the tree grows,” Goff said.
As for the New Hampshire School of Ballet’s Jennifer Reinert, she is sticking pretty true to the classic.
“We stuck true to the original story line and we stuck with the old period,”Reinert said. “I think maybe it’s because growing up with it that way, I hate to deviate from some of the things that make it such a cool tradition.”
But while she has been doing The Nutcracker for 20 years, she said she finds ways to make it fresh after all these years.
“Every year I change a little bit of the choreography. You know, obviously some of the kids this is their fifth or sixth year doing The Nutcracker with us,” Reinert said. “And as the kids progress in age, they move up in levels and perform different parts. . . . And we try to change the costumes every few years.”
Reinert has a cast of 60, all from the studio, ranging in age from 7 and 8 years old to 18. She said she tries not to bring in outside dancers, but instead likes to choose the lead dancers from inside her own studio. Even though many of her students go on to be professional dancers, she said, this may be their only chance to have a lead role like this.
She is doing three shows, the first in Concord with the second two in Claremont and Manchester respectively, giving her students the feel of what it would be like to be on a mini-tour, setting up for one day and shoving off for the next town.
As for the show itself, she thinks as usual the kids will love the growing Christmas tree as well as real falling snow in the snow scene. Reinert also said she thinks that audiences will enjoy watching the lead nutcracker, played by 15-year-old Peter Mazurowski of Bow, who played the lead in Billy Elliot on Broadway.
New Hampshire School of Ballet’s production is Dec. 14. Its Claremont performance is Dec. 16, and the Manchester performance is Dec. 27. Turning Pointe’s production is Dec. 21.
Both shows start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15. For more information, visit concordcityauditorium.org. For more on the New Hampshire School of Ballet, go to nhschoolofballet.com. For more on Turning Pointe, go to turningpointecenterofdance.com.