Today was the mother of all rehearsal days. The artistic team and I worked with about 390 dancers throughout the day putting The Nutcracker on stage for the first time. It was a wild and woolly day indeed. Donna Glover served as MC all day long, making for such a smooth day. The day’s events went something like this:
We started early and Laurie Metzger and I worked with the Mice for 45 minutes—they were wonderfully enthusiastic.
The snow angels followed—what delightful girls—skimming the stage as if on gossamer wings. Their “peek-a-boo, I see you” phrase is a delight.
Part scene/Red Cast—this gang is really pulling together. I had to work on the sharpness of the marches, the lullaby, and little Matthew’s reaction to being kissed by two girls when he holds the mistletoe above his head.
Party scene/Gold cast—there are some real personalities here. Kennady, who plays the youngest girl, is amazingly precocious, as is Carter, as the littlest boy is quite the entertainer. (Last night he put on a block bowler had lying around the studio from Twyla Tharp’s Push Comes to Shove and kept us in stitches with his Bob Fosse routine.)
Party scene/Green cast—the mean green dancing machine. Getting that present-giving scene right is stressful, but they’re up for it!
The ballet scene, with Clara, Ben Franklin, Betsy Ross, The Nutcracker, the Rat King, 6 Red-Coat Rats, 12 soldiers and 3 Valley Forge bunnies. This is an amazingly complicated scene including oversized costumes, hard dancing for the rats, precise drills for the soldiers, two mounted equestrian soldiers, and a number of pyro effects. We have 4 casts in most roles; getting it all to work—to seem like chaos but be completely orderly as well—takes a huge effort...So far so good!
The opening of Act II (Bees, Mushies, Pages, Butterflies galore, Sugar Plum and Cavalier, Clara and Prince to spare!). Then we worked on the Chinese variation, the feisty Clowns, the brash Frontier Girls, and the massive finale involving most of the cast. It was a great day with dancers of multiple generations dancing together, mentoring each other, and learning from each other.That’s a swell holiday gift!