'Nutcracker' performance brings back 'wonderful feeling'
This December, the auditorium at West Linn High School will be full of dancing snowflakes, holiday cheer and a tribute to the Pacific Northwest.
On Dec. 3 and 4, Oregon City's Abernethy Performing Arts will host its annual holiday production of "The Nutcracker" at the WLHS Performing Arts Center. Set to the classic music of Peter Tchaikovsky, the classical ballet mirrors the short story "The Nutcracker and Mouse King." On Christmas eve, a young girl named Clara is surprised to find that her recently gifted nutcracker has come to life. The duo escapes to a holiday wonderland, where they dance and battle an army of mice.
Although the production company will mostly follow the original story, it sprinkled in elements that pay homage to Oregon. Instead of the play taking place in Germany, eventgoers can recognize familiar scenes from around the Portland metro area.
"It's the traditional story of 'The Nutcracker,' with a Northwest twist," said Keith Walls, director of Abernethy.
During the opening acts, a model of the carousel at Oaks Amusement Park in Portland will be a prominent backdrop, and the characters will travel to "carousel land" for their adventures rather than the Land of Sweets. The carousel will be decorated with different animals that correspond with dances in the second act and instead of the flower garden, the play pays homage to Portland's Rose Festival.
The over 60 dancers, the youngest a toddler, began rehearsals in September. After last year's holiday production was stalled due to COVID-19, Walls said they are all excited to bring the Christmas magic back to the stage.
"I think the excitement is really great for our kids. All our dancers are really looking forward to the production. We can really tell from the support that we're getting from the community that they are looking forward to celebrating something traditional that they've had in the past, and reconnect with that wonderful feeling again," Walls said.
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