What do you get when a sugar plum fairy, a prince, a mouse king, wooden soldiers and a magnificently growing Christmas tree all share the theater stage?
That’s right — the world’s most performed ballet, “The Nutcracker Ballet.”
Presented by The Ballet Studio of Temecula, in association with Fine Arts Network Theatre Co., this beloved and renowned ballet will once again grace the stage on Dec.14-23 at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater .
Based on the E.T.A. Hoffmann story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” the ballet we know today was written by famed Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky and first premiered onstage in 1892.
Traditionally performed during the Christmas holidays, The Ballet Studio’s critically-acclaimed version of “The Nutcracker Ballet” promises to be an enchanting and magical experience.
This year, for instance, Director Mark Erickson has added almost eight minutes to the ballet’s opening in order to clarify the sometimes confusing storyline.
“For me, ‘The Nutcracker Ballet’ in its traditional form has made little, if any, dramatic sense,” admitted Erickson. “My goal has always been to make it possible to follow the story before us without the aid of a full-page synopsis.”
“This year we are excited about the new opening we have added to the show. It establishes more in depth the relationship between Drosselmeyer and his assistant. I feel this will help move the show forward in a more dynamic and interesting way.”
For those unfamiliar with the tale, it’s a two-act story of a young German girl (“Marie”) who has an amazing dream after a festive family Christmas Eve party that includes her man-shaped Nutcracker gift coming to life; a fierce battle against the Mouse King and his army; the defeat of the Mouse King and the Nutcracker turning into a Prince; an ensuing trip to the Kingdom of Sweets; and a climactic celebration of international dances.
When “Marie” wakes up, she finds herself underneath her family’s Christmas tree with her cherished Nutcracker in her arms.
This year’s production will see the role of “Marie” performed by veteran ballerina Tiffany Koepke for seven of the 10 performances.
Miss Koepke is also a member of the San Diego Ballet Company.
“This role takes a lot of acting and it is a huge responsibility to give ‘Marie’ life,” Koepke explained. “With the additional opening scene, I’m on stage practically the entire performance.”
Miss Koepke is also excited to reprise her lead role in “The Nutcracker Ballet,” one she has performed the past eight years running.
“‘Marie’ is one of my favorite parts to play each year,” admitted Koepke. “‘The Nutcracker’ has always been an important part of my life, since being a child. It wouldn’t feel like Christmas without it.”
For the other three performances, 14-year old Caroline Johnson will become “Marie” for the very first time.
“I’m a little nervous, but I’m really excited.”
When asked what she’ll bring to the character of “Marie,” Miss Johnson replied: “I want to try to make it more humorous in certain parts. Make it more personal, in a way.”
These performances will indeed be very special and important to Miss Johnson, as she’s dedicating them to her late father, Jerry, who recently lost his battle with cancer.
“I know he’ll be smiling and want to give me a hug.”
For more information and to purchase tickets, please click here.
Chris Baptiste is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.