The Pearls and Perils of a Nutcracker Tour

So we begin next week.. the Nutcracker Tour to North Carolina.  First stop Morganton, NC – stop # 2 Franklin, North Carolina .  Both city’s performances are already sold out. With 22+ years of CBT Nutcrackering,   I’ll recount some of the behind-the-scenes realities and dramas that unfolded in the course of our tours.  From the cheesy grins to the removal of props, from the corralling of children to the fear that one of the boys will bump right into Drosselmeyer and when there is live music  into a tuba, and from the malfunction of the toy soldier’s box to the mad dash to take the final picture, Party Scene is essentially that. A party

When the professional dancers of Charleston Ballet Theatre take the stage at 7:30 p.m. next Friday  to perform “The Nutcracker,” in Morganton  they will be joined by local ballet students. The dancers will get the thrill of their young careers that night: performing onstage and mingling backstage with the seasoned performers. Local ballerinas will take on roles as jesters, cavalry, soldiers , angels and baby mice in the holiday classic.   Every little dancers dreams…

These are Pearls of the tour….  what about the Perils?

So you  think we’re  seeing all these great places?  Wrong, we don’t see anything. We are  going to wake up on the tour bus outside the venue, , slightly disorientated, hot and in desperate need of a shower. You’ll basically see the area around the venue, a restaurant, a spacing rehearsal and that’s it. And it’s going to be like that for every single city in the world. It’s like being the detective in a surreal mystery. You’re constantly solving tiny little problems: misplaced shower gel, room keys, passports, and most probably more than anything. … sanity.

One of My rules of  tour  … is A Stash of great music.  No songs about being out on the road. I hold to this high standard: Jackson Browne is not allowed to croon about roadies setting up, and it’s not okay for ABBA to sing about having to be a super trouper. I find the theme tacky. It is true, though, that being on tour can be a little grueling A major difficulty of it is that, as a choreographer/director , you are constantly being pulled between worlds. Being on tour and giving a piece of yourself to the audience every night could, through some eyes, be seen as engaging in a sort of affair. I mean, it’s best when it’s intimate, and you really can’t be in two places at once. 

“You learn very quickly there’s no point moaning. We have an expression, ‘I do believe this was your chosen profession.’ It’s our way of saying, ‘Shut the hell  up, you could be driving an ice-cream van.'”

And that being said I cannot begin to describe the immense high and satisfaction I feel in the final bows of each show. NOTHING compares to the sight of the theatre full of cheerful inspired audience members, and NOTHING can buy that sensation of complete happiness as I watch a standing ovation in progress A final effort to defend The Nutcracker might be based on the high quality of Tchaikovsky’s music, and you will get no argument from me on that point; it is indeed music worth listening to. I am reminded of the combined talents of every character in the Nutcracker, and ballet’s  beautiful ability to touch people and to inspire. It’s in the humors, inside jokes, and anecdotes that I find relief, and it’s in that momentary final bow and then the load of the production to move it to the next city that I find the impetus and resolve to do it all again; to inspire both new faces and old friends.


2 thoughts on “The Pearls and Perils of a Nutcracker Tour

  1. Kathy Waters

    To the company of the Charleston Ballet Theatre

    I live in Hayesville, NC, across the mountains from Franklin. This afternoon, I took a good friend to see your Nutcracker and we floated all the way home
    across the mountains. Your performance was beautiful!

    My youth was spent in a ballet studio but I was never fortunate enough to dance professionally. While I am much older now, my love of ballet never leaves me so whenever I have a chance to see a live ballet performance, I do. Over the years, I have been privileged to see some of the greatest ballet companies and dancers and have learned to appreciate true talent and hard work.

    I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your performance in Franklin. In particular, I loved Ms. Muller’s role as Maria. In the first act, she truly was the young girl, posed on the brink of maturity. In the second act, she danced the role of the girl she dreamed of becoming. The transition between the two roles was striking. I read that she also performs the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy – how I wish I could see her dance that role.

    When I learned you were coming to Franklin, I asked my good friend Karen if she wanted to go. Our seats were not great but, regardless, she and I thoroughly enjoyed the performance. While I have seen the Nutcracker and other ballets so many times I can’t count them all, I didn’t know until just before the curtain rose – Karen had never been to a ballet in her whole 65 years. What a beautiful initiation for her.

    In addition, I loved the setting being in Charleston and that Maria’s brother Rawlings was a Citadel cadet. We spent four years traveling down to Charleston as our younger son graduated from El Cid in 2008. Do you need an authentic Cid uniform? We have one hanging in our closet.

    Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to come to Franklin. Karen and I are so happy you did! And we hope you return next year.


  2. Shannon

    I must agree with Kathy, December 6th was a magical night in Franklin, NC when the CBT performed the Nutcracker. I took my two young daughters, age 4 and 7, to the performance. Both were enchanted and hooked from the beginning. The costumes and music were beautiful. The performers magical.

    Both of my daughters take dance and have planned a Nutcracker performance of their own. However, both are intent on playing Maria!

    It is difficult to expose children to the arts in a rural area such as ours. Thank you so much for bringing a wonderful, professional performance to us. Please come again!


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