Celebrating 35 seasons, Chico Community Ballet embarks on the creation of a brand-new and unique concept with their bi-annual Nutcracker production at Laxson Auditorium: “A Very Chico Nutcracker.” Inspired by Dr. Oscar Stansbury and his daughter, Angeline, this soaring story captures the awe and expectation of the night before Christmas when a mysterious gift sparks a wondrous adventure. As the colossal Christmas tree shoots skyward and almond blossoms blanket the stage, the ballet magically takes Angeline and the audience on a journey she never expected. From an enchanted land brimming with visitors from faraway lands, waltzing almond blossoms, to a handsome prince—A Very Chico Nutcracker is the perfect holiday adventure.
This December at Laxson Auditorium, join Chico Community Ballet as they breathe life and excitement into The Nutcracker by giving this classic Christmas ballet a very “Chico” flare. Set in turn-of-the-century Chico, to Tchaikovsky’s magical score, this holiday staple illustrates Chico’s rich history through gorgeous new sets, beautiful costumes, amazing dancers, and iconic Chico images. A Very Chico Nutcracker is a holiday extravaganza the whole family can enjoy!
The mastermind behind this unique concept, is artistic director and main choreographer, Debbie Jorritsma. Jorritsma is a veteran director of The Nutcracker, and is well known for her ‘tutorage’ of young, local ballet students during her 30 years of teaching in the North State. “The concept of a ‘Chico’ Nutcracker all started when I went on a tour of the Stansbury house. There’s an old picture of Angeline Stansbury’s bedroom where she has posters from around the world, and all of a sudden, it clicked and I was inspired,” says Jorritsma, “It just seemed like the family was perfect. The Stansbury Association seemed very warm and open to the idea. I was kind of clueless as to how I was going to make this happen, but the puzzle pieces started to fit.”
With a new concept, and 35 seasons of wear and tear, the original Nutcracker sets are getting put to rest. “The sets are getting completely redone,” says Jorritsma, “Steve Ellis, our technical director, basically said ‘it’s time,’ so that marked the beginning of our plan. From January on, the whole idea started falling into place, and we’ve been working really hard since then.”
“Bob Pickering is our set designer, which is pretty comical because Bob was our first Nutcracker set designer way back in 1995 and 96. Set wise, I just gave Bob lots of ideas and images, and somehow, he was able to take it and pull it all together,” says Jorritsma.
Producing a local ballet of professional caliber takes a lot of work, and requires a solid team. This highly anticipated performance features more than 80 performers from Chico Community Ballet, Inspire School of The Arts, and Dance Evolution. “A huge new part to this is the community involvement. We always work with local community members to some capacity, but the support we’ve gotten from Kathryn DeMontigny at Dance Evolution and the dancers from Inspire has been incredible,” says Jorritsma.
Dancing the lead role of Angeline will be Nutcracker veteran dancer and guest performer, Cameryn Titus. Titus began dancing for the Chico Community Ballet company when she was eight years old, and has been invited back as a guest performer for this year’s production. “It’s such an honor to be dancing with this wonderful group of performers,” says Titus, “I love ballet and the Chico community, and I am just really excited for everything that’s in store.”
Starring alongside Titus in the lead role of the Nutcracker, is fellow veteran, Jake Bevens. Just like his co-star, Bevens has been dancing for the Chico Community Ballet Company since he was in elementary school. Now dancing professionally in Los Angeles, Bevens has been hired as a guest performer in his fourth time performing the role of the Nutcracker. “I’m so excited that they’re putting a Chico flare on The Nutcracker,” says Bevens, “I’m honored to be a part of something so unique to Chico, and I love that I get to give back to the Chico community, whom without, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
A Very Chico Nutcracker will feature two special meet and greets: The first will take place on opening night, with the members of the Doctor Oscar Stansbury Association dressed in full period garb, greeting the audience as they enter. The second will be with select costumed dancers, immediately following the Saturday matinee.
Experience the rich history and culture of Chico through Tchaikovsky’s magical score—an unforgettable holiday experience you won’t want to miss.
A Very Chico Nutcracker will take place Thursday and Friday, December 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, December 3 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, December 4 at 2:00 p.m.
To purchase tickets or find out more information, visit
or call 530-898-6333.