Once upon a time, in the not too distant past, Dr. Oscar Stansbury settled in the North Valley and raised his family. His daughter, Angeline, was raised in the Stansbury house at the corner of Fifth and Salem streets in Chico. This year, as it did last year, Angeline and her history become the central focus of A Very Chico Nutcracker.
After debuting A Very Chico Nutcracker last December, Chico Community Ballet and The Stansbury Home Preservation Association knew they had a hit on their hands. The reimagining of the classic Nutcracker tale of a little girl’s dream, with her Nutcracker Prince coming to life, fighting a fierce Mouse King, and whisking her away to the Land of Snow was an instant “have you seen it yet?” hit.
Chico Community Ballet dancers come together with local community members to bring this “Chico” version to life. Sets are “Chico” recognizable, and lend to the “I know where that is” feeling as the ballet progresses throughout its prologue and two acts.
Because of the popularity of the new Nutcracker, Chico Performance’s is bringing it back to Laxson this Christmas season, so patrons who saw the production last year can come again, and new patrons can enjoy a classic ballet that has familiar touches.
As in last year’s production, this year’s A Very Chico Nutcracker has all the standard Nutcracker fairy-tale elements; the party scene, which is now set at the Stansbury Home, highlighting iconic Chico scenes, as well as historical, local Chico guests. Clara is now Angeline, who is presented the gift of a Nutcracker by her godfather Drosselmeyer – accompanied by magic touches and special effects. The party winds down, and Angeline drifts off to sleep, only to be awakened by a very alive Nutcracker as he prepares to do battle with the Mouse King.
After a fierce battle, the Nutcracker invites Angeline to the “Land of Almond Blossoms” – the Chico version of the “Land of Snow.” From there Angeline and her Nutcracker Prince ravel to the Kingdom of the Wildflowers, where they interact with Mother Goose, Little Bo-Peep and several more fairytale characters, and are entertained by dancers from faraway lands.
As Angeline awakens, the remnants of her “dream” linger, and Angeline has to ask “was it just a dream or was it real?” In this version of The Nutcracker, one will never know, but you can rest assured, you will walk away with a new appreciation for the classic tale of The Nutcracker – “Chico” style.
A Very Chico Nutcracker performs at Laxson Auditorium November 30 through December 3. Matinees will be held on Saturday, December 2 and Sunday, December 3 at 2 p.m. For those attending the Saturday matinee, there will be a “Meet and Greet” with the dancers immediately following the performance. Tickets and more details are available at chicoperformances.com