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The Making of The Nutcracker at OU

Students Learn About the Hard Work Behind the "Magic"

The beloved holiday classic ballet, The Nutcracker, as presented on stages across the world for over 100 years, offers audiences young and old a chance to believe in magic, if only for a brief time.

Students performing in, and working behind the scenes for, this year’s production of The Nutcracker at the University of Oklahoma, are getting a unique opportunity to learn firsthand the hard work that goes into making this treasured fairy tale ballet, with its signature swirling snowflakes, waltzing flowers, handsome prince and Sugar Plum fairy, come across as magical on the stage.

OU School of Music Director Michael Bearden, who is directing the University Theatre production of The Nutcracker, says the OU students also are fortunate to be involved in this year’s production, which celebrates the 75th anniversary of Willam Christensen’s version of the holiday favorite. Christensen’s version was premiered in 1944 by the San Francisco Ballet.

“I am so pleased that our students have the opportunity to learn and benefit from working in and presenting this historic production that inspired a cultural tradition in the United States,” said Bearden, who performed various roles in the Christensen version of The Nutcracker as a principal dancer with Ballet West.

OU’s production of The Nutcracker is set to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s magical score and based on the story The Nutcracker and the King of Mice by E.T.A. Hoffman. Children from the Oklahoma City metro area will also take the stage, performing the roles of soldiers, mice, buffoons, pages and party guests.

Dancing key roles are School of Dance faculty Karel Cruz, as Herr Stahlbaum and the Sugar Plum Cavalier, and Boyko Dossev as Dr. Drosselmeyer.

The design staff are Emma Antongiovanni, Anne Sheffield and Michael Sullivan, scenic designers; Michael Buchwald and Lloyd Cracknell, costume designers; and Richard Sprecker, lighting designer. The production staff consists of Karen Crus, Jan Fugit and Mary Margaret Holt, ballet masters; Christa St. John, young performer ballet master; Keita Maloy, stage manager; Jeff Baldwin, technical director; Kasey Allee-Foremen, associate producer; and Mary Margaret Holt, producer.

The remaining performances of the holiday classic are scheduled for 8 p.m. Dec. 5, 6 and 7 and at 3 p.m. Dec. 7 and 8 in the Elsie C. Brackett Theatre, Rupel J. Jones Fine Arts Center, 563 Elm Ave., on the OU Norman campus. Tickets at the door are $35 for adults and $15 for students.

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