Re-entering My Childhood Nutcracker

December 9, 2007

Call me crazy, but I agreed to perform in the first act of Irine Fokine’s Nutcracker—after 40 years. Her 50th Anniversary production is coming up this week in Hackensack, NJ (see story in our Dec. issue, page 103).  Back in the 60s, I played a naughty little boy in the Party Scene before I graduated to the Maid, which is the role I will be “reprising” next Saturday. (I also did Spanish dance and eventually worked up to Snow Queen and the lead in Waltz of the Flowers.) I played the Maid as a normal, if lowly, young person. In the DVD I was given of Miss Fokine’s recent production, the Maid is played as a doddering old person. Well, methinks, I can manage this! So yesterday I went back to Ridgewood, NJ and took in a rehearsal in preparation for my comeback. Just walking into the studio reminded me that during those years my bliss was to be rehearsing Nutcracker. I love every measure of that music. So to come back is a way for me to give thanks to … to Tchaikovsky and Miss Fokine.

    I always loved the Party Scene. When the curtain opens after the overture, and the music is shimmering/simmering with anticipation of the magic to come, the Maid is helping to decorate the tree with Mme. and Herr Silberhouse. As the Maid, I had a moment when I am crossing the stage serving cookies and get almost to the upstage left wing. Suddenly there is the ominous, peg leg music for Drosselmeyer’s entrance and I back away in fear. Well that moment is gone—or rather the Maid is not there at that moment—but there are other choice moments to revel in. And the music has been encircling my head all night and day.