There are lots of fresh, colourful touches to this year’s rendition of the seasonal classic The Nutcracker, staged at the Red Deer College Arts Centre.
The production runs Dec. 14 at 1:30 and 7 p.m. and Dec. 15 at 1:30 p.m. on the Arts Centre mainstage.
Director Tania Strader has been with the production since 1999, and has been directing it since 2002.
“I love the magic of Christmas and The Nutcracker is part of the Christmas season just as much as candy canes and gingerbread,” she explains. “A lot of the dancers I only see for this nutty season and I look forward to seeing them year after year.”
Strader said she also truly looks forward to meeting new dancers who are making The Nutcracker part of their Christmas tradition as well.
“I love how the dancers are all here for the same thing – to make this year’s production more magical than the last,” she said. “Whether it be through their dancing or the support and love they show towards each other, it is equally important. We are one family that has grown twice in size this year with a cast of approximately 80 dancers ranging from ages four to adult.”
It’s certainly a big cast to work with, but Strader welcomes the challenge.
“I was excited for such an unusually large cast,” she said, noting that of course there are a few challenges with this as well. “I am thrilled that so many local dancers want to share the magic of Christmas through their dancing. It was challenging trying to rethink the production with so many more dancers being involved but exciting at the same time.”
Even after a century, Tchaikovsky’s perfect score and epic battle of mice and toy soldiers still draw holiday crowds wherever The Nutcracker is performed.
The Nutcracker ballet is based on a book called The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, published by German writer E.T.A. Hoffman in 1816.
Hoffman, a writer, composer, caricaturist, and painter, was known for his stories in which supernatural characters reveal people’s hidden secrets.
Of course, there’s the sweeping, elegant score written by Tchaikovsky as well. He began work on the project in early 1892 before beginning a tour of the United States, completing it later that summer.
Clara receives a cherished Nutcracker from her mysterious Aunt Drosselmier.
After everyone has gone to bed for the evening, strange things begin to happen. Clara watches as rats and soldiers battle for victory.
She is guided through falling snow and taken to the Land of Sweets where sweets from around the world dance in her honour.
Many versions of the story have been published as children’s books, and it’s been said that in his stories Hoffmann combined wild flights of imagination with vivid and convincing examinations of human character and psychology.
As a ballet, The Nutcracker made its première at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg in December of 1892.
Audiences are invited to settle in for an unforgettable journey; a tale that hasn’t remotely lost its sense of wonder. And Strader also works to provide a few fresh touches from year to year.
“The story line has stayed traditional with a few, fresh twists,” she said.
“For example, when the Rat King is defeated and the spell over the Nutcracker is broken, the spell is also broken over the Sugar Plum Princess and her true identity is revealed.
“Together, the prince and princess travel back to their castle in the Land of the Sweets for a celebration in their honour.
“Here the audience will be introduced to some new characters – so fitting to our wide range of dancers.
“The Nutcracker is as traditional as the Christmas tree which makes it loved by all who watch it year after year,” points out Strader. “People find comfort in tradition and The Nutcracker is there year after year to provide that to its viewers.”
Tickets are available by visiting www.bkticketcentre.ca or by calling 403-755-6626.