If the visions of sugarplums dancing in your head make it want to explode, it might be time for something a little nuttier – “The Nutty Nutcracker” from the Sacramento Ballet on Friday, Dec. 11.
Last performed almost a decade ago, the twisted sister of the beloved version of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” is being brought back for one night only. That’s before the Sacramento Ballet cast dives into the performances of the traditional holiday classic, from Saturday, Dec. 12, through Tuesday, Dec. 22.
“Look for all different kinds of characters that aren’t in the regular ‘Nutcracker,’ ” said Ron Cunningham, who has run the company for almost three decades with his wife and co-artistic director, Carinne Binda. “Sports figures, pop culture icons, gorillas – maybe even Donald Trump.”
The idea for a crazy takeoff of the classic ballet grew rather organically, such as when the troupe showed up to dance the snow scene “dressed in bathrobes,” Cunningham said, “then ripped them off to perform the entire dance in bikinis and swim trunks.” Why not? It’s California, where one can ski in the morning and surf in the afternoon.
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Although he describes the Nutty as being in the Monty Python vein, it’s totally OK to bring the kids, Cunningham said, “but many of the jokes may go over their heads. It might be a good night to leave them at home with the sitter and bring them to a matinee later.” He said the children in the ballet will do the scenes they have rehearsed for the “The Nutcracker,” except “the boys will be getting Super Soakers and the girls will get Tonka trucks instead of dolls.”
Taking over the “Waltz of the Flowers” will be Step One Fitness in a hip-hop groove, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer will drop in, “and the Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus will perform lots of Christmas tunes that everyone knows,” Cunningham said.
“We were looking to provide a different experience for people,” Cunningham said, adding that this is only the third time “The Nutty Nutcracker” has been staged; the first production was in 2004. The dancing is done to recorded music.
Although “The Nutty Nutcracker” will be on the same day as National Ugly Sweater Day, the day’s signature attire is not required, Cunningham said. “But you can wear one. And you won’t be alone.”
Here are the details for holiday performances by the Sacramento Ballet as well as other dance troupes in the region:
“Sugar Plum Fairy Tea,” share dessert, beverages and children’s activities with the “Nutcracker” cast, 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, Verge Center for the Arts, 625 S St., Sacramento. $30. 916-552-5800 www.sacballet.org
“The Nutty Nutcracker,” 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11. $19-$65. “The Nutcracker,” opens Saturday, Dec. 12, and continues through Tuesday, Dec. 22, at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturdays; 1 and 5 p.m. Sundays; 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18, and Monday, Dec. 21; and 1 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 22. All performances star an adoption-eligible dog from the Front Street Animal Shelter. Community Center Theater, 1301 L St., Sacramento; some performances are to a live orchestra and others to recorded music (check website for details). $19-$80. 916-552-5800 www.sacballet.org
Select performances offer add-ons for the price of admission:
▪ A look behind the scenes: Watch the company class on stage, see the stagehands begin preparations, and talk with the artistic directors, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier; 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, and 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 13.
▪ Music to our ears: Conductor Henrik Jul Hansen of the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra and Cunningham tell of the history of Tchaikovsky’s famous score and anecdotes about “The Nutcracker” over the years; 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18, and noon Sunday, Dec. 20.
▪ A trip to Drosselmeyer’s toy shop, Clara invites children of all ages to bring their favorite doll or toy to the show to meet her magical Nutcracker and dancers from the professional company. 4-4:15 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19; Grand Tier lobby.
Placer Theatre Ballet
“The Nutcracker,” 1 and 5 p.m. Saturdays Dec. 5 and 12, noon and 4 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 6 and 13, Placer High Theater, 275 Orange St. Auburn. $14-$21. 916-630-7820. placertheatreballet.org
“The Nutcracker,” 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, Sheldon High School Performing Arts Center, 8333 Kingsbridge Drive, Sacramento; and 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 18, at Atherton Auditorium, San Joaquin Delta College, 5151 Pacific Ave., Stockton. $14-$25; tickets sold at capitolballet.com until 8 a.m. Friday, Dec. 11, for Sacramento show and until 8 a.m. Friday, Dec. 18, for Stockton show. 916-484-1188.
Pamela Hayes Classical Ballet
“The Nutcracker” to music by members of the Folsom Symphony; 7 p.m. Thursday-Friday, Dec. 17-18, and 1 and 5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 19-20; Harris Center for the Arts, 10 College Parkway, Folsom; $15-$26. 916-608-6888. harriscenter.net
Ballet Folklorico de Sacramento
“Posada Navidena” (Christmas Celebration), 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21, the Harris Center, 10 College Parkway, Folsom; $25-$51. 916-608-6888. www.harriscenter.net