American Ballet Theatre Brings The Nutcracker to the OC

Gillian Murphy as Clara, The Princess and Marcelo Gomes as Nutcracker, The Prince in ABT's The Nutcracker
Gillian Murphy as Clara, The Princess and Marcelo Gomes as Nutcracker, The Prince in ABT’s The Nutcracker

Photo Credit: Doug Gifford

‘Tis the season for sugar, spice and everything nice—including, of course, The Nutcracker. 

The Segerstrom Center for the Arts and American Ballet Theatre have joined forces to present a limited run of performances this December in Orange County.

For its west coast premiere and inaugural season at the Center, Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker will be given 14 performances, which began on Dec. 10 and will run through Dec. 20.

While Veronika Part and Marcelo Gomes will led the opening night cast of The Nutcracker dancing the roles of Clara/the Princess and Nutcracker/the Prince, respectively, tonight’s lead female role is none other than ballet’s “It” girl, Misty Copeland, who was just named one of People magazine’s 25 most intriguing people of the year when she became the first African-American woman to be promoted to principal ballerina with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre.

Subsequent casts include the wonderful Gillian Murphy and James Whiteside, Isabella Boylston and Alban Lendorf, Stella Abrera and Alexandre Hammoudi, Hee Seo and Cory Stearns,  Herman Cornejo (with Copeland) and Sarah Lane and Joseph Gorak in the leading roles. At the matinee performance on Saturday, December 12, Isabella Boylston and
Alban Lendorf danced the roles of Clara/the Princess and Nutcracker/the Prince for the first time with ABT. Lendorf, a principal dancer with Royal Danish Ballet, will join ABT as a Principal Dancer in September.

The Nutcracker is set to a score by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky and features scenery and costumes by Richard Hudson and lighting by Jennifer Tipton.  The production was given its world premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House on December 23, 2010.

The engagement of The Nutcracker continues an on-going relationship between Segerstrom Center and ABT. The company has appeared at the Center 23 times, beginning in 1987. At the Center, ABT gave the world premiere of Mikhail Baryshnikov’s Swan Lake in 1988, the West Coast Premiere of Kevin McKenzie’s new production of The Sleeping Beauty in 2007 and the world premiere of a new production of The Firebird by Alexei Ratmansky. In 2008, ABT co-commissioned Twyla Tharp¹s Rabbit and Rogue with Segerstrom Center for the Arts, receiving its world premiere in New York and west coast premiere at the Center. In 1999, the ABT production of Le Corsaire was taped for broadcast on PBS’ Dance In America, winning an Emmy Award. In 2003, The Dream was also taped at the Center for broadcast on Dance In America.

South Coast Plaza, Tiffany & Co. and Orange County BMW Centers added to the celebratory spirit of the season by hosting a post-performance cast party in South Coast Plaza’s Jewel Court on Dec. 10. Guests wined, dined and danced beneath the towering Christmas tree set upon a larger-than-life pedestal flanked with glittering nutcrackers. Attendees dined on a luxe late-night menu of tray-passed hors d’oeuvres such as lobster mac & cheese and a farm-to table-salad. They sipped the evening’s signature Dew Drop Cocktail of champagne and wine. And carrying the ballet’s Act I party and sugar plum dreams from stage to soiree, dessert offerings made a very sweet ending to the magical evening: tea-size Dixie Custom cupcakes, petit fours inspired by the Tiffany & Co. blue box, strawberries hand-dipped in Godiva Chocolate, nutcracker-inspired pops, Mangiamo gelato and custom nutcracker-themed shortbread cookies.