Broadway Designers Transform The Nutcracker

The Hanover Theatre Conservatory’s annual production of The Nutcracker is undergoing a major transformation with the help of internationally recognized scenic designer Christine Peters and lighting designer Paul Miller. Audiences will be delighted, mesmerized and surprised by the design duo’s collaboration on The Nutcracker, playing Thanksgiving weekend, November 29 – December 1.

Dreams in the Making

When Ballet Arts Worcester became a part of the The Hanover Theatre Conservatory three years ago and The Nutcracker became a conservatory production, redesigning the show was an early discussion. 

Now, as the production enters its 12th year, Artistic Director Jennifer Agbay’s dreams of designing The Nutcracker from scratch are coming true. 

Peters and Miller’s designs for the national tour of ELF the Musical caught The Hanover Theatre’s attention when the show came through Worcester, as they had a similar whimsical quality to what Agbay imagined for The Nutcracker

Having worked on other Broadway shows, including Aladdin, Mary Poppins and Legally Blonde, the designers will now bring the magical world of The Nutcracker to life on The Hanover Theatre stage. 

Dazzling Pop-Up Book Brought to Life

“Children and adults alike will be transported into Clara’s magical world to take part in her voyage while experiencing their own special journey through this timeless story,” Agbay said. “After speaking with several designers, no one understood my artistic ideas more than Christine Peters. Right from the start, she was on the same page. Her designs emulate my vision of a real-life pop-up book come to life with childlike charm, but not in a cartoonish way.”

“Before The Nutcracker was a famous ballet, it was a children’s book. We wanted to go back to its roots. 

– Scenic Designer Christine Peters

Featuring live music from The Hanover Theatre Nutcracker Orchestra, The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky first performed in Russia in December 1892 and based on the stories of E.T.A. Hoffmann and Alexandre Dumas. The story revolves around Clara, a young girl who receives a nutcracker doll as a Christmas gift and then enters a magical world where the Nutcracker and other characters come to life.

“The large illustrative quality gives a nod to the original story while adding a sense of whimsy and imagination as the characters travel to the different fantasy lands,” Peters said.

This year’s production also features professional dancers from Orlando Ballet, Festival Ballet Providence and Ellison Ballet out of New York City.

Major Gift Makes Complete Designs Possible

When Peters’ new scenic designs came in, the theatre was thrilled with her vivid and colorful, layered imagery. However, the theatre had only budgeted to create custom backdrops. Peters had designed more complex settings that included cut portal drops for the “Snow” and “Land of Sweets” scenes, ornate, sweeping staircases in Clara’s house and even a custom curtain nicknamed the “I-spy” curtain because its ornate design included hidden images from the story. 

Thanks to a gift of $202,000 from Mary C. DeFeudis, an original founding member from the theatre’s 2008 opening, the complete design will be executed in time for this year’s production. Peters made a special addition to the curtain’s design before it was sent off to the scene shops: a wrapped present with a tag that reads, “With love, Mary.”

The Nutcracker is a signature show for the theatre. It inspires our young performers to reach for their dreams. I am happy to enhance our annual production of this timeless show and to encourage our talented teachers and students.”

– Founding Member Mary DeFeudis

A New Adventure for Worcester

The magical holiday tradition returns to Worcester Friday, November 29 – Sunday, December 1, generously sponsored by Commerce Bank, a division of Berkshire Bank.

The theatre is excited to embark on this new chapter for The Nutcracker and is looking forward to unveiling the new design, which is sure to delight audiences for years to come. 

“This production provides so much to the city of Worcester and takes us on a sweet adventure, reminding us of the power of magic,” Agbay said. 

“The city can declare this treasured production as its own, and it will only get better over time.”

– Artistic Director Jennifer Agbay


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