PORT TOWNSEND — With its timeless magic, lavish costumes, and Snow, Dew Drop and Sugar Plum fairies, The Nutcracker takes fans on a dream-like journey of music and dance.
The classic holiday ballet is back with a full production staged and choreographed by John Bishop, the Port Townsend Ballet’s newly appointed artistic director as of September.
In its third season, The Nutcracker will be performed at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Wheeler Theater at Fort Worden State Park, 200 Battery Way in Port Townsend.
The Port Townsend Ballet is tweaking some aspects of the costumes, scenery and even choreography to make them more representative of the cultures they depict.
“We have altered the dance roles of the Act 2 divertissements such as Spanish, Arabian, Chinese and Russian to Chocolate, Coffee, Tea and Trepak to be more representative of those cultures,” Bishop said. “We have also changed some of the typical costuming and choreography that have been displayed for decades. There is an ongoing movement recently for ballet companies to move in this direction as well.”
The troupe features a cast of 30, mostly comprised of students from Port Townsend Ballet with some of the more challenging roles being performed by former and current professional dancers.
The set includes hand-painted scenery, custom costumes, a new locally built sleigh for Clara, and professionally made props.
Set to the music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker is based on the 1816 German fairy tale The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffmann. The story follows a young girl named Clara (Marie, in the book) Stahlbaum, who, on Christmas Eve, receives a magical Nutcracker doll as a gift from her mysterious godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer.
The story takes a dramatic turn when the clock strikes midnight and Clara finds herself in a world where toys come to life, mice battle toy soldiers and the Nutcracker transforms into a handsome prince.
The second act transports the audience to the Land of Sweets, ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy. Clara and the Nutcracker Prince encounter a series of dances by characters such as the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Cavalier and representatives from various countries.
The Nutcracker premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1892, and since then, it has become one of the most performed and cherished ballets worldwide.
Its popularity has extended beyond the stage to numerous adaptations in film, television and other forms of media.
“Having danced, choreographed and trained dancers in this unique ballet for over 50 years, I never get tired or bored with the magic it brings to audiences each year,” Bishop said.