Mice will fight, and snow will fall on the Jennifer Stevens stage at Waxahachie High School this Christmas season with a professional performance of “The Nutcracker.”
The Waxahachie-debut of the longstanding holiday favorite was made possible through a partnership between Waxahachie ISD, the City of Waxahachie and the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce.
Long-time Waxahachie High theater director Andy Reynolds disclosed that he has wanted "The Nutcracker" in town for many years. He often discussed the production with Jennifer Stevens, but unfortunately, he never had enough dancers.
“There are so many people in Waxahachie that it’s their annual tradition. They go and see 'The Nutcracker,' but they have to go to Fort Worth or Dallas to see it,” Reynolds explained. “I wanted to bring it here. I wanted to bring a professional company to Waxahachie. Why? Because I don’t think little.”
Over the summer Reynolds provided several tours and updates on the WHS theater facility to his friend, Tracy Jordan, who is the head of the tap facility for LakeCities Ballet Theatre, which is the nonprofit pre-professional ballet company that will perform the upcoming show.
Jordan recalled on one particular visit "a light bulb went off over my head because I knew how much Waxahachie gets into Christmas time."
Ironically, LBT had already discussed the desire to include a show south of the Trinity River. The new high school just so happened to provide the ideal stage.
“LakeCities Ballet was delighted to come out here,” Jordan explained. “That’s what thrills me. This is the first time we have had a professional or pre-professional company south of the Trinity presenting ‘The Nutcracker.’”
LakeCities Ballet Theatre Artistic Director, Kelly Lannin, who has directed for the show for the past 29 years of its 35-year run, state the high school's theater is "amazing."
“Our high school auditoriums don’t look like that," Lannin emphasized. "You have an orchestra pit, and that’s something we struggle with out here in Lewisville, is to find a venue with an orchestra pit.”
She also expressed the excitement from the individuals who have represented Waxahachie — Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce, Waxahachie ISD, the Waxahachie Convention and Visitors Bureau, the WHS theatre Pow-Wow Players Booster Club of the Waxahachie High School Drama Department club, members of the Waxahachie Community Development Corporation and the City of Waxahachie.
“We are so excited about the enthusiasm of your community," Lannin said. "We are almost a little jealous because we went in the initial meeting and there were about 10 people there, and they were so excited — people from the city, people from the chamber, people from the high school Pow-Wow Players Booster Club of the Waxahachie High School Drama Department club. We were blown away.”
“Everyone seemed to understand the importance of something like this, bringing 'The Nutcracker' to the community,” she added.
The Waxahachie Community Development Corporation voted to use $19,000 from the City of Waxahachie hotel and motel tax fund as seed money to bring the play to Waxahachie.
A total of “$10,000 of the $19,000 is considered a grant for the first year and the other $9,000 is to be reimbursed from the revenues of the production,” explained, Laurie Mosley, director of the Waxahachie Convention and Visitors Bureau. "This would showcase Waxahachie as a leader in the performing arts unlike any of our surrounding communities."
“The Nutcracker” is scheduled for two matinee shows to allow those interested to experience “Bethlehem Revisited" or attend the Candlelight Tour. The performance will bring approximately 125 dancers that include Russian dancer, Marlen Alimanov, cast as the caviler, and 19-year-old Anastasia Tillman as the sugarplum fairy.
Lannin is currently coordinating with the WHS choir to have female students sing during the performance. Local theatre talent will be included in the show, and a Waxahachie celebrity will be featured in act two when the children run out from under Mother Ginger’s dress. Along with incorporating local talent, WHS theater tech students will take advantage to shadow two-time Emmy award winner on the PBS series, “Wishbone,” Tom Rutherford.
On stage, audience members will experience high-quality visual effects. Lannin said a Christmas tree will grow 14 feet tall, snow will fall and “the battle scene is always very interesting because there are guns, cannons and smoke. It’s a big battle with mice and soldiers and a chariot brings the mouse king out.”
“Our production, since we’ve been doing it for so many years, I’d say is one of the best ones," Lannin boasted. "When you do a production that many years you tend to build your sets and build your costumes."
The professional show is scheduled for Dec. 1 and 2 at 2 p.m. Ticket prices vary by the seat, with center stage tickets running $40, and the left and right stage priced at $25.
The Pow-Wow Players Pow-Wow Players Booster Club of the Waxahachie High School Drama Department Club of the Waxahachie High School Drama Department also created a package deal for $65 that includes lunch by The Reservation, photo opportunities with cast members, prime seating and a unique souvenir.
Tickets can be purchased at https://whsdramadept.org/.
“I think we are going to sell out. People are going to have to get on it,” Reynolds emphasized.
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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450