- Friday, Nov. 23 through Sunday, Nov. 25 at 2 p.m.
- Friday, Dec.14 at 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday, Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday, Dec.16 at 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, Dec. 18 through Thursday, Dec. 20 at 7:30 p.m.
- Friday, Dec. 21 and Saturday, Dec. 22, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday, Dec. 23 at 2 p.m.
At UNC-Chapel Hill’s Memorial Hall
- Saturday, Dec. 1 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
- Sunday, Dec. 2 at 2 p.m.
- Saturday, Dec. 29 at 7 p.m.
- Sunday, Dec. 30 at 2 p.m.
After 10 successful seasons of presenting nearly 200 performances of Carolina Ballet’s traditional The Nutcracker, in 2011 artistic director Robert Weiss decided to make some changes to the annual holiday program with new scenery, designed by Jeff A.R. Jones, and grand illusions for the Party Scene of Act I. Weiss approached several magicians with his idea and found Rick Thomas, one of the top magicians working in Las Vegas, who would offer the “wow factor” Weiss wanted without taking anything away from the elegance of the Victorian Christmas Eve scene. Besides having been in the magic business with nightly shows in Las Vegas for more than 20 years, Thomas and his sister had been junior ballroom dancing champions, giving him a true appreciation for music and dance. He was clear from the outset that he was not going to create a magic show, but rather weave magic into the story, as part of the dance. The News & Observer commended the balance, with critics awestruck by the new set and fascinating illusions.
The Party Scene in Act I of The Nutcracker centers on the mysterious Herr Drosselmeyer, a toymaker and godfather to the Stahlbaum’s daughter, Clara. He arrives at the party with his nephew and proceeds to entertain the guests with wonderful illusions, grand scale magic replacing the standard parlor tricks. It culminates with a special guest appearing out of a giant book to give Clara the Nutcracker doll Drosselmeyer has made for her. As Tchaikovsky wrote the magic sections into the original score, adding “real” magic to the scene is not changing anything – it is just enhancing what was already there.
There is plenty of other magic behind the scenes getting The Nutcracker ready. In early September, more than 200 children auditioned for a role in The Nutcracker. There are 67 roles for children in the cast which includes the party children, truffles, soldiers, mice, gingerbread cookies, Arabian attendants, and Clara and her little brother, Fritz.
Rehearsals begin right after the auditions, with Lori Christman Bourtasenkov, former soloist with Carolina Ballet, working her own magic throughout the fall to get the 130-plus children ready for the stage. Weiss acknowledges how hard the children work to become a part of the cast, practicing often and learning all of their spots and moves. The professional dancers of Carolina Ballet are the glitz and the glamour, but the children are an integral part. Without the children, there would be no The Nutcracker.
Ticket prices for The Nutcracker range from $20 to $80 and may be purchased by calling the Carolina Ballet box office at (919) 719-0900, through Ticketmaster at (800) 982-2787 or at Carolina Ballet’s website, http://www.carolinaballet.com. Tickets for the performances UNC-Chapel Hill’s Memorial Hall are available through contacting Carolina Performing Arts by calling (919) 834-3333 or visiting http://www.carolinaperformingarts.org.
“We are very excited to bring back our revamped The Nutcracker this year, with even more performances,”
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ABOUT CAROLINA BALLET:
Carolina Ballet is a world-class professional ballet company based in Raleigh, N.C. Since its professional launch in 1998 under the leadership of Artistic Director/CEO Robert Weiss, the company has staged more than 80 world premiere ballets, toured internationally in China and Hungary, and has been acclaimed as one of the premiere arts organizations in the country. The mission of Carolina Ballet is to entertain and enlighten audiences in Raleigh, the greater Triangle area, North Carolina and beyond. The organization seeks to accomplish this mission by presenting traditional ballets of legendary masters; commissioning new works by innovative choreographers;
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