INSIDE Chico State
0 December 7, 2000
Volume 31 Number 8
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Familiar Favorite

Nutcracker Poised to Charm Again

Several leading Nutcracker performers Anna Pope (harlequin), Pat Kopp (Clara's godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer), Thomas Bell (soldier), and Carrie Murray (Clara) pose for a photo shoot during a rehearsal.
Several leading Nutcracker performers Anna Pope (harlequin), Pat Kopp (Clara's godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer), Thomas Bell (soldier), and Carrie Murray (Clara) pose for a photo shoot during a rehearsal.

(Photo by Ian Gilmore)

Chico Performances and Friends of the Chico Community Ballet are pleased to be presenting Chico's traditional Christmas celebration, The Nutcracker, on December 15 and 16 at 7:30 pm and December 16, and 17 at 2 pm in Laxson Auditorium (See Calendar for ticket information).

The Nutcracker combines beautiful dancing, sumptuous sets and costumes, and Tchaikovsky's famous music. The familiar story, based on the novel by E.T.A. Hoffmann, concerns a young girl named Clara and the enchanted gift of a Nutcracker she receives from her godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer.

This year's production by Chico Community Ballet features many magical new features, as well as performers and artistic pieces familiar to local audiences.

The Nutcracker will be directed and choreographed by Deborah Jorritsma, who also directed and choreographed Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and the previous Nutcrackers.

Jorritsma is creating a dream-like ballet that includes the use of unique props, sets, and actual live magic. "In each new production of The Nutcracker," Jorritsma said, "I am trying to create new elements along with many of the traditional concepts to continue to make a new experience for the audience."

This year's production will again present Mother Goose, who brings to life many well - known storybook characters. Also included will be a Christmas tree that grows up to 30 feet, an exciting, dancing Chinese Dragon, and special guest artists dancing the roles of the Nutcracker, Sugar Plum Fairy, and her Cavalier.

"Each Nutcracker production is unique, and I feel with the many magical effects it will be a wondrous experience, a story that both children and parents will cherish," said Jorritsma.

Reprising his role as the Nutcracker will be professional dancer Thomas Bell. Bell danced in the same role in CCB's last Nutcracker in 1998 and has also danced in the Chico Performances and Friends of the CCB's productions of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty in Laxson Auditorium.

The role of Clara will be performed by CSU, Chico student Carrie Murray. Murray began studying at the Red Bluff School of Dance at age 6 and later became a member of Ballet North (Red Bluff's ballet company). Other roles performed by Murray include Alice in Alice in Wonderland and the Sugar Plum Fairy in Nutcracker. She first played the part of Clara in The Nutcracker at the age of 12.

In the first ballet performance of his career, Pat Kopp, director of Chico Performances and University Public Events, will be playing Herr Drosselmeyer. After 35 years at CSU, Chico, Kopp will retire in December from his position. Kopp's directing credits include Naughty Marietta this year, La Cage Aux Folles in 1997, Hello Dolly in 1995, and Oklahoma in 1993.

Black - belt karate instructor Richard Benz will be portraying the infamous Mouse King. Betsy Schamet will perform as the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Returning again to this production will be former pro football players Jeff Stover and Tom Flesher in their roles as the Arabian Dancers. Stover and Flesher were huge successes in their debut in the last Nutcracker. Stover played for the 49ers, and Flesher played for the Green Bay Packers.

Reprising a popular guest role is Marilyn Warrens as the grandmother. Warrens has been an active participant and supporter of several local theatre productions, most recently Naughty Marietta.

Other community members involved in The Nutcracker include Christine Peterson, an elementary school teacher at Emma Wilson School, and Jim Williams, owner of Burger Hut.

Sponsors for the event are Mervyn's, City of Chico, McCoy Advertising, UPN 2, Paradise Post, Chico Enterprise Record, Butte College, Mervyns, and Mix 95.1. The Nutcracker is presented by Chico Performances, the Friends of Chico Community Ballet and is supported by grants from the California Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, Western States Arts Federation, and the City of Chico Arts Commission.

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