Menlowe Ballet’s holiday offering is “It’s a Wonderful Nutcracker”
Menlowe Ballet unveils the world premiere of Michael Lowe’s It’s a Wonderful Nutcracker December 12-20, 2015, at Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center, 555 Middlefield Road in Atherton. Inspired by Frank Capra’s classic film, It’s a Wonderful Life, Menlowe’s It’s a Wonderful Nutcracker is set in the 1940s and boasts all the magical trimmings of a traditional Nutcracker enhanced with a heartwarming message about family and what’s truly meaningful about the holidays.
Eight performances take place Saturday, December 12 at 2:00 and 7:00 pm; Sunday, December 13 at 2:00 and 7:00 pm; Friday, December 18 at 7:00 pm; Saturday, December 19 at 2:00 and 7:00 pm and Sunday, December 20 at 2:00 pm. Tickets ranging from $28-$55 are available online or by calling 800-595-4TIX (4849).
“For a long time I’ve wanted to create a Nutcracker that touches people’s hearts in a different way,” says choreographer Michael Lowe (pictured below, far left). “I first watched Frank Capra’s film It’s a Wonderful Life over 40 years ago and was captivated. I always felt that the movie’s tone and storyline could translate beautifully into a new kind of Nutcracker that celebrates the best of both stories.”
To bring his vision to life, Lowe collaborated with Artistic Associates Julie Lowe and Sarah-Jane Measor to craft the ballet’s narrative. Set in the early 40s in a fictional American small town, the production honors most of the traditional elements that make Nutcracker a holiday favorite. Says Lowe: “Our tale is refreshed with unique twists and a heartfelt message illustrating that while giving and receiving ‘presents’ is part of what makes the holidays wonderful, it is the physical ‘presence’ of those who are important in our lives that imparts lasting meaning.”
Prior to founding Menlowe Ballet in 2011, Michael Lowe enjoyed an illustrious performing career as a dancer, appearing in numerous traditional Nutcrackers. In Menlowe’s production of It’s a Wonderful Nutcracker, Lowe returns to the stage as Drosselmeyer, a character who embodies the heart and spirit of the film’s lead character George Bailey, famously portrayed by Jimmy Stewart.
Menlowe’s production also features a taste of 1940s swing dance performed by professional ballroom champions Chelsea Farah and Eric Koptke. Joining the professional cast are students from the Menlo Park Academy of Dance.
Based in Menlo Park, CA, Menlowe Ballet is a professional ballet company dedicated to bringing dance to audiences throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Founded in 2011, the company performs works that encompass cultural, classical, and contemporary styles. In addition to its artistic mission, Menlowe Ballet provides performing opportunities to aspiring students from its official ballet school, the Menlo Park Academy of Dance.
Photos from an early rehearsal of It’s a Wonderful Nutcracker by Laura Hamilton