Theatre & Dance Preview

Americana twist marks a new D.C. Nutcracker tradition

This year, the Washington Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker marks a new tradition for the District. Choreographed by Septime Webre, the ballet stays true to the allure of the classic Russian winter story and adds a distinctly American twist.

The ballet takes place in the parlor of a Georgetown mansion with notable party guests like Betsy Ross, Ben Franklin and Frederick Douglass. Other aspects of American history have been inserted into almost every scene. The battle scene relives the Revolutionary War with the rats in redcoats led by the Rat King (who resembles King George) and the Continental Army of toy soldiers led by a George Washington nutcracker. The Americana theme continues in the second act, with the cherry blossoms in bloom while Clara is transported to the Land of the Sweets by an old-fashioned paddlewheel steamship. Anacostia Indians and American frontiersman are featured in the Arabian and Trepak divertissements. As Lady Ginger’s gigantic skirt opens, it will reveal a working carousel.

The performance requires approximately 250 dancers and costumes at price tag of roughly $1 million. The cast includes dancers from the Washington Ballet, the Washington Ballet Studio Company, students from the Washington Ballet School and DanceDC. Through the smiling faces of young dancers, the company brings energy, expression, stunning athleticism and beauty to every character.

The Nutcracker will run at the Warner Theatre now until Dec. 26. Students receive a 50 percent discount on rush tickets purchased in person at the box office with student ID one hour before the show. Call (202) 397-SEAT.

-Oliver Truong

Millie does Manhattan – and now D.C.

Ah, the Big Apple – it’s been said that if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. And for years, men and women have struck out from their homes to do just that, sometimes hitting the big time, sometimes coming away empty-handed.

The critically acclaimed musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie” is a tribute to those who set out for New York to find out who they really are. The musical, which will be performed at the recently renovated Kennedy Center Opera House, is the 2002 winner of six Tony Awards, making the production the most lauded of that year. “Millie” took honors for choreography, acting, costume design and the top honor of “Musical of the Year,” among others.

The show revolves around Millie Dillmount (Darcie Roberts), a small-town girl who arrives in New York at the height of the Roaring ’20s. Millie’s story is a coming-of-age tale in the jazz era, in which women became modern by cutting their hair, getting a job and dressing in considerably skimpier attire. The musical is based on the 1967 Oscar-winning film, but only two songs have been retained from that production. The current version of “Millie” features nine new songs and four songs from the 1920s.

The touring production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” which makes its first stop in the District, is directed by Michael Mayer (of Bethesda Md.) and is choreographed by Rob Ashford. The touring cast is different from that of the show’s Broadway run, which ended this past June.

“Thoroughly Modern Millie” will run at the Kennedy Center until Dec. 26. Performances will take place Tuesday through Sunday at 7:30 p.m., with some matinee performances. Tickets are $35 to $93 Call (202) 467-4600.

-Maura Judkis

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