If you’re looking for an excuse to take a study break this weekend, “Jazz Nutcracker” might be the perfect escape.
“Jazz Nutcracker” is the Binghamton University theatre department’s take on the classic ballet story — the storyline and songs are adapted, with several changes by the director, and more dancing and jazz music are added to the mix.
The department performed “Jazz Nutcracker” for the first time last year, and the department plans to make it a yearly tradition, performed on the first weekend of December as part of the Mainstage series.
This year’s production of “Jazz Nutcracker” is directed and choreographed by JoEllen Kuhlman, an adjunct lecturer in the theatre department. Kuhlman has previously choreographed several productions at BU, such as “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Hairspray” and “Rent.”
For this year’s production, Kuhlman said she wanted to focus more on jazz rather than on the classical ballet of the traditional show.
“Because it’s different, it’s not so classic, people can come and enjoy something familiar — a different take,” she said. “They will hear some of the same melodies, mixed with jazz music in the background.”
Kuhlman, who also directed and choreographed last year’s production, said there are a few clear differences in the direction of this year’s show.
“I tweaked some of the numbers. We added two full dances, and cast four more children, along with two [more] students,” Kuhlman said.
The story of “Jazz Nutcracker” starts out like the classic tale, following a young girl named Clara, who is given a special nutcracker by her uncle, Drosselmeyer. Clara falls asleep at her family’s holiday party and experiences a joyous adventure in her imagination. In her parlor, everything comes to life, including life-size dolls and wind-up ballerinas. The rest of her imaginative dream follows a battle between mice and the nutcracker, along with his wooden army of soldiers, and leads up to a piece involving a land of sweets and dancing cupcakes.
Magdalena Palac, a junior majoring in integrative neuroscience, who plays the role of the Mouse Queen, said that she thought this production was distinctly different from other productions put on at BU.
“In regard to all the other Mainstage productions, [“Jazz Nutcracker” is] strictly a dance play. Just dancing — no singing, no acting — just plain old dancing,” Palac said. “Typically, most dance performances are one genre, and this one literally includes pretty much all of them, a good variety of dance, action, romance [and] comedy.”
Performances of “Jazz Nutcracker” will be held in Watters Theater of the Anderson Center on Friday, Dec. 1 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for students, $16 for faculty, staff, alumni and seniors and $18 for community members.