Bored of seeing the same holiday ballet year after year, Modesto's Strut Performing Arts developed an alternative "The Notcracker."
Now in its third year, the show is set to the familiar "Nutcracker" score by Tchaikovsky and follows the same general story about a girl named Clara who receives a magical nutcracker doll that turns into a handsome prince and carries her off to the Land of Sweets. But it includes hip-hop, jazz and tap in addition to classical ballet, and it adds new characters.
Directed by sisters Heather and Hollie Bettencourt, the show features slightly different choreography each year. "Every year, it depends on what we're thinking and feeling," Heather said.
Last year's version was told from Clara's point of view. This year, it is told from that of Drosselmeyer, Clara's godfather, who gives her the doll. The show opens with a storybook projected on a screen that gives background on the tale.
Instead of toy soldiers fighting mice, they will fight jesters. There also will be a new scene with children playing butterflies. In last year's staging, the prince took Clara through a rain forest before getting to the Land of Sweets; this year, it's more of a secret garden.
The cast features about 115 dancers ages 4 to early 50s, including 10 male dancers. The company is particularly proud of the number of men because it can be hard to recruit male dancers.
Hollie Bettencourt said "The Nutcracker" was long overdue for updates. "If you've seen one 'Nutcracker,' you've seen them all," she said.
Audiences have responded well to the changes. "Last year, the line was out the door and we were sold out," Hollie said. The sisters said they might expand the performance run from two shows to three next year.
WHAT: "The Notcracker"
WHEN: 7 p.m. Dec. 15 and 2 p.m. Dec. 16
WHERE: State Theatre, 1307 J St., Modesto
CALL: (209) 527-4697