The large cast will be on stage for four performances Dec. 7 through 9 at Shilling Community Center in Richland.
“It’s unique, because it’s not all ballet and it’s not all play,” said the play’s narrator, Christine Gregory. “It’s a nice little hybrid of both.”
The Mid-Summer Moon Production’s story is based on the 1816 “The Nutcracker and the Rat King” by E.T.A. Hoffmann as well as the ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. “With a little bit of artistic liberty,” said director and writer Marie Lightner.
The story follows Marie, a young German girl, during her journey through the Kingdom of Sweets. Along the way, she meets interesting characters. “One of them is the sugar plum fairy,” Lightner said.
The play combines the two artistic companies, giving the large cast opportunities to both act and dance. “It’s a nice mix,” Lightner said. “There is a lot of activity.”
The stage will be filled with young dancers and actors as mice and snow fairies, a tradition Lightner felt was important. “Because you have to have the little ones,” she said.
The family-friendly play incorporates many family members, including Gregory and her son Donny, who will be on stage as an important character. “He wanted to be the Mouse King because there is a sword fight dance,” Gregory said. “It is much more choreographed than anything he has ever done before.”
Donny, 13, has been a part of Mid-Summer Moon Production company for several years, having performed all Cratchit family male parts in “A Christmas Carol” except Bob the father.
For several years, Mid-Summer Moon casts have performed “A Christmas Carol” for the holidays.
“It had run its course,” Lightner said. “This has been a nice change.”
Lightner and her husband took part in “The Nutcracker” in 1995 with Nancy McReynolds, artistic director of the Richland Dance Company. “We were the host and hostess back then,” Lightner said.
The couple continued to perform in the ballet even after they created Mid-Summer Moon in 2000. This year will have a couple of changes for the production company, including their performance of “The Nutcracker.”
She decided to replace the Christmas play after she and McReynolds discussed combining the dance and drama companies for one performance. “We came up with the idea of adding some dialogue and bringing the story to the stage along with the ballet numbers,” Lightner said.
The directors have kept many of the ballet routines known in the popular Christmas musical.
Rebekah Bruer and David Holmlund are part of the Richland Community College Dance department and have danced together in other productions. In past dance performances, the couple did not have to speak. “It’s still a complete ballet version,” Holmlund said. “There’s just been some acting added to it.”
“This is something new,” Bruer said. “It’s a new tradition.”