Ballet west has been using the same designs in its “Nutcracker” production for nearly 30 years, according to the company’s artistic director Adam Sklute.
“So it was high time for a makeover,” Sklute said. “We’ve been working on these new sets and costumes for almost two years now.”
The $3 million revamp – opening Dec. 2 – includes all new sets, props, and costumes. The nearly 200 new costumes were all hand-made in the Ballet West costume shop.
Some of the tutus, with hundreds of Swarovski crystals sewn in, are valued around $8,000.
There’s only one piece in the production that hasn’t been replaced: the grandfather clock from Act I, which was built for the very first Utah production 60 years ago.
Most of the new costumes will look familiar to fans, just more colorful, sparkly and extravagant. Some groups are getting more noticeable makeovers.
“Probably my favorite,” Sklute said, “is the ‘Waltz of the Flowers.’ We have different groupings of flowers, so it’s like a giant garden.”
A Utah-centric update is Mother Buffoon and her children. She’s been transformed into a queen bee, whose workers fly out from under her giant skirt, which now looks like a beehive.
Sklute said there’s another thing audiences will notice this year: “big special effects.”
“We’ve worked with 21st-century techniques a little bit to really enhance the special effects and do justice to Mr. C’s choreography,” Sklute said, referring to Ballet West’s founder, Willam Christensen.
Christensen, affectionately known by those at Ballet West as “Mr. C,” is credited with first bringing “The Nutcracker” to America in 1944. Sklute says Ballet West is committed to keeping Christensen’s original choreography alive.
Ballet West officials say excitement over the new production means tickets are going fast.
Ballet West’s “The Nutcracker” runs Dec. 2 – Dec. 30 at the Capitol Theater.