Photo Credit: Phil Wayes

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Long-Winded 'Great Russian Nutcracker' recap

9:45am. 30 Texas dancers armed with ballet shoes, makeup, and digital cameras piled into the Stafford Centre theatre in Stafford, Texas. We were shepherded into our dressing area, introduced to the wardrobe mistress and the company photographer (both lovely people-- flawless at working with kids), fitted in costumes, and photographed. I was super happy about my Spanish costume, because it was super gorgeous and super fun to turn in (I found it necessary to do chaine turns down the hallway while saying "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!").

Cut to: stage rehearsal. Dance Captain Anna Tyutyunnik looked over all the local dances and integrated us with the main cast. I expected chaos, but it went pretty smoothly. Shout-out to Paul The Stage Manager (possibly the coolest stage manager ever), who answered my questions about the GRN's touring process. Such as:
1. How long have you been on the road? (Six weeks)
2. How many casts of GRN are touring? (Three: Southwest Tour, Northwest Tour, and Northeast Tour, AKA A Tour, B Tour, C Tour)
3. Bus? Plane? (Two Buses: One for dancers, one for cast and crew)
4. Exactly how insane is your touring schedule? (The dancers sometimes spend 10 to 12 hours on the bus, then have to dance. Or they get to a hotel at 4am, and have to be dancing by 10am.)

Cut to: Performance. It was the last show, and in grand tradition of the theatre, the last performance of a run is a scared time of focus and reflection and....pfft, I'm kidding. The last show of a run is when the cast has FUN. There was so much laughter backstage, thanks to:
- The Nutcracker-- with missing teeth
- The Arabian Doll dancer had these huge fake teeth in the entire time she was dancing, and when she came offstage she literally doubled over laughing.
- During the party scene, a woman was "falling down drunk."
- All the party scene women had their hats on backwards.
- The pièce de résistance: The snow was falling during the snowflake scene, like it always does. The curtain came down as they snowflakes were dancing in a big circle...and the moment the curtain touched the stage, Paul dumped ALL THE FREAKING SNOW, a huge pile of white stuff in one big ka-pow. The dancers shreiked, we all laughed, "snowballs" were thrown, and Paul got high-fived by me. And then knighted as Coolest Stage Manager Ever.

The kiddos did great. The Party Scene children had the most stage time and the most interaction with the main cast-- ya know, those folks that they had never seen until today-- and they handled it like little pros.

Mouse costume= lots of jokes about wearing no pants.

Oh, here's something that I've never done before: I put on the wrong costume. Yup, just strolled on into the dressing room, saw a dress that was Spanish-y and absently put it on. Never mind that said dress was A) Elle's, B) definitely not hanging anywhere near mine, or C) not the one I had on earlier. Yeah, um, sorry about that, Elle.

Cut to: Act 2! I had a blast doing Spanish. Smiled, didn't screw up, and then it was over before I knew it. I got offstage (grinning like an idiot, as usual) and thought "'s it, huh?" My "Little Spanish" came up to me, said "Great job!" and gave me a hug. Awww!

One of my buddies was an Arabian, and their duet was lovely. The Russian dance was awesome, except I still don't get why the "Little Russian" girls danced holding giant roosters on sticks. Can someone enlighten me on that? Anybody?

I got to mess with someone named "Tork" on headset, that was fun.

The rest of it, I didn't get to see too much of. When I get the DVD, I'll fill you in. For now, all I can say is that what I did see was really lovely.

I love the guy who danced Drosselmeyer. His stage presence and interpretation of his character were outstanding-- whimsical, charismatic, a magician. I hate the creepy/incestuous Drosselmeyer that some ballet companies are so fond of. I mean, really? This is the ballet that's supposed to enchant children, not make them creeped out by Uncle Molesty. At least GRN gives us a guy in a cool cape who makes magic happen.

I could tell you more, but I have to pack for my trip to Austin in twelve hours, and I should probably shower somewhere in there. And this post is really long. So allow me to sum up my entire Great Russian Nutcracker experience thus:

"That was fun."


Ballet said...

Ballet shoes wear out very quickly; because of this fact many dancers purchase many pairs because they go thru at least a dozen or more shoes each year. The sole, strong yet flexible, helps younger dancers build strong feet.

lucius said...

Uncle Molesty = LOL.

Wearing no pants, also LOL.

Well played, Madame Butterfly