Caleb Aube and Tori Jacobson raise their arms and smile Saturday, Dec. 1, during rehearsals for Juneau Dance Theatre’s production of “The Nutcracker.” (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Caleb Aube and Tori Jacobson raise their arms and smile Saturday, Dec. 1, during rehearsals for Juneau Dance Theatre’s production of “The Nutcracker.” (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Juneau Dance Theatre freshens up a classic

Holiday staple takes stage for four-show run

It’s the time of the year when Juneau Dance Theatre gets crackin’.

The theater’s annual production of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” is coming Friday to the Juneau Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé auditorium for a weekend-long run.

While the production is a traditional take on the classic holiday-staple ballet, there are some features new to this year’s shows that will separate it from productions from the past 14 years.

Those include new costumes for mice, flowers and marzipan dancers, said Juneau Dance Theatre Executive Director Bridget Lujan in an interview, as well as a new backdrop painted by local artist Louise Miller.

Act 1 of “The Nutcracker” takes place at a holiday party and precedes many of the plot’s magic elements. However, it does conclude with a fight between soldiers and mice, and Clara’s entree into a magical world.

Ainsley Mallott (Clara) and Megan Lujan (Sugar Plum Fairy) smile during rehearsals for “The Nutcracker,” Saturday, Dec. 1. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Ainsley Mallott (Clara) and Megan Lujan (Sugar Plum Fairy) smile during rehearsals for “The Nutcracker,” Saturday, Dec. 1. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

“We’ve never had scenery for that other than a Christmas tree and the furniture,” Lujan said. “We’ve never had any scenery or backdrops for that.”

Donations and a grant helped raise money for the painting, Lujan said.

Private donors contributed $3,000, and Lujan said the Douglas-Dornan Fund through Juneau Community Foundation provided a $1,000 matching grant.

Lujan said the backdrop, which was not visible at the theater’s rehearsal space, sets a scene of a stately but mundane party that contrasts with the ballet’s later fantastical elements.

“The thing is, it’s very simple,” Lujan said of the backdrop. “It’s almost understated, because it’s a wall, but there’s some local flare. “

Jasmin Holst (Dew Drop Fairy) dances during rehearsals for The Nutcracker,” Saturday, Dec. 1. The ballet opens Friday. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Jasmin Holst (Dew Drop Fairy) dances during rehearsals for The Nutcracker,” Saturday, Dec. 1. The ballet opens Friday. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Those Juneau-specific touches include Aurora Borealis visible through a window and a painting of fireweed in front of the Mendenhall Glacier.

Guest artists for this year are Elizabeth Murphy and Jerome Tisserand from Pacific Northwest Ballet. Murphy will portray the Sugar Plum Fairy and Tisserand the Cavalier.

Lujan said she was excited the production will be bolstered by principals from the Seattle-based company.

“It’s a big deal to have dancers of their caliber in Juneau,” Lujan said. “For $20, I think it’s the best deal in town. I think it would be at least twice as much to see them dance in Seattle.”

The least expensive tickets for the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Dec. 6 performance of “The Nutcracker” range from $27 to $88, according to PNB’s website.

Back this year are Land of Sweets and Tea Tours scheduled for early Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Those events include crafts, tea and sweets prior to the show and are sold out, Lujan said. However, there are still tickets available for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday performances.

Juneau Dance Theatre dancers rehearse Saturday, Dec. 1 for an upcoming production of “The Nutcracker.” (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Juneau Dance Theatre dancers rehearse Saturday, Dec. 1 for an upcoming production of “The Nutcracker.” (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Online sales will close Friday afternoon, Lujan said, but tickets will be available at the door for all shows.

Know & Go

What: “The Nutcracker”

When: 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8.

Where: Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé auditorium, 1639 Glacier Ave.

Admission: General admission costs $20. Students and senior admission costs $15. Tickets are available at Hearthside Books, the Juneau Arts & Culture Center, through jahc.org or at the door.


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt


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