Entering into its 22nd annual season of "The Nutcracker," Delaware Ballet company will revisit a witty idea it debuted many moons ago for its latest production of the beloved ballet, which kicks off Friday at Delaware State University's Education and Humanities Theatre.
The EH Theatre won't fade to black after an army of mice and nutcrackers square off in the epic battle scene in act one of "The Nutcracker." On the contrary ─ the audience will see the scene dissolve in front of their eyes at the magical hands of Uncle Drosselmeyer. Drosselmeyer will move his hands like a maestro and then parts of the set will vanish. The living room where the battle will take place will suddenly transition into a snowy scene, with the help of a snow machine. The device will spew out lovely snow flurries (or pieces of hole-punched computer paper).
Creating such a dynamic transition from the battle scene to the snow waltz ─ rather than blacking out the scene during the change – is a feature that Delaware Ballet introduced to their audience nearly a decade ago. The flair that it injected into the show was so unique that Delaware Ballet Artistic Director Dan Kaiser decided to give it another go for this season.
"I think the audience will love it," said Kaiser, 51, of Dover. "We did this a while ago and we kind of put it in the closet a bit. But we're bringing it back again. It's a neat transition."
The change between the scenes will appear smoothly, and seemingly magical, since DSU uses a fly system, which is a rigging system that allows a stage crew to quietly and quickly hoist things like lights, curtains and scenery out of plain view.
Implementing such a scene transition into the show is a good way to keep Delaware Ballet's production interesting for the public, and its dancers.
"It keeps it fresh," Kaiser said. "If you stay stagnant, then that's the way [your show] becomes."
Dancer Angela Errico has taken heed to Kaiser's words about avoiding complacency. Entering into her third "Nutcracker" season with Delaware Ballet, Errico has worked her way up from playing the Snow Queen to the coveted role of Sugar Plum Fairy.
"It's an honor," said the 17-year-old, of Dover. "It's kind of like a big part that everybody works toward. It has a lot of dancing in it."
Errico, who opens Friday night as the Sugar Plum Fairy, is sharing the role with Julie Conrad, who'll play the character on Saturday.
The Sugar Plum Fairy is a regal character who rules over the Kingdom of Sweets. It's a place where the lead character, Clara, arrives at whilst dreaming. The fairy has a number of her candies dance for Clara, including candy canes.
Page 2 of 2 - "I own the whole Kingdom of the Sweets, so there's definitely an attitude of poise and lots of control and grace [in this character]," she said.
Errico's greatest obstacle playing the role doesn't involve stage freight. It has everything to do with asserting herself as a regal character.
"I'm a more of a shy person," Errico said. "But they kind of need me to step up and get rid of my shyness. I need to take more control of the stage. That's the biggest thing I need to work on for this weekend."
But she's a bright kid who can figure this out.
Since the fall, Errico has been maintained a 4.0 GPA as a senior at Caesar Rodney High School while dedicating 20-plus hours a week to dance practices and rehearsals.
Errico's ability to juggle ballet with academics has given her the confidence that she can achieve anything she puts her mind to.
Her mom, Kathy, also shares the same confidence in Errico.
"I could not be more proud of her and how she's learning time management skills," said Kathy, the secretary of the Delaware Ballet Guild. "It'll serve her very well."
IF YOU GO
WHAT Delaware Ballet's presents 'The Nutcracker'
WHEN 7 p.m., Friday; 3:30 and 8 p.m., Saturday
WHERE Delaware State University in Education and Humanities Theatre, 1200 N. Dupont Highway, Dover
COST $15 adults; $12 students and seniors
INFO Visit delawareballet.net or call 698-1340