There is nothing grander then walking into the Rosecliff Mansion, especially at Christmas. Island Moving Company adds to the grandeur with several beautifully decorated Christmas trees in every corner, each with its own style and color theme. It is breathtaking and magical.
Mikki Ohlsen and her wonderfully talented company, faculty, staff, along with approximately 80 students from the Newport Academy of Ballet, is not to be missed. I had the opportunity to perform with Island Moving Company as a guest artist, playing the role of the Snow Queen. It was a great honor and a pleasure to work with this fine company of dancers, the faculty and of course, the wonderful students.
The Island Moving Company’s production differs from any other local Nutcracker production. The audience is treated to a holiday experience from the moment they enter the mansion. The performance begins with the party scene, which takes place in the foyer of the mansion. It’s Christmas Eve in Newport, Rhode Island, and the family of Judge Oelrichs, his young daughter Tess and her brother Hermann are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Vanderbilt family. The mysterious Herr Drosselmeyer, an imposing figure enveloped in a great cloak, arrives and brings the Winter Fairy, an unseen spirit who helps Drosselmeyer enchant the house. The audience follows the company of dancers throughout the mansion, as we are treated to scenes in several different rooms of the mansion, each decorated more grandly than the last. The Vanderbilt and Oelrich children are charmed by the wonderful life-like mechanical toys that Drosselmeyer has brought, and are thrilled when they receive gifts. Tess adores her special gift, a Nutcracker. Hermann is jealous and takes the precious Nutcracker; after a brief struggle, the Nutcracker is broken. Tess is heartbroken, but Drosselmeyer quickly fixes it. The party moves into the Rosecliff’s grand ballroom, and the audience is seated once again to watch the families dance and celebrate the holiday. They then move back into the foyer as the Vanderbilts and Oelrichs say goodnight. Late that night, Tess sleeps restlessly; when the clock strikes midnight, the Mouse Queen and her rats appear and torment Tess. Tess is consoled by Herr Drosselmeyer who twirls his cape and reveals a life size Nutcracker, with several soldiers. At battle follows between the soldiers, the rats, the Queen and the Nutcracker.
The battle ends and the Snow King and Queen enter down the grand staircase and lead Tess and the audience to the magical snow scene. The audience experiences the waltz of the snowflakes and the beautiful Snow Pas de Deux. The first act ends with the Snow King and Queen waving goodbye as they exit the grand ballroom.
The ballroom is then transformed into the Land of the Sweets during the 15-minute intermission. This transformation, which only an ‘insider’ sees, is a magical event itself. Volunteers and staff quickly transform the ballroom from a frosty forest to a beautiful Kingdom of Sweets. As the second act begins, we are introduced to the Sugar Plum Fairy and other confections who perform for Tess. The scenery is beautiful, and the dancing is magical. The Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier, along with the other confections, slowly bow to Tess and recede as figures in a dream, placing the Nutcracker toy into the sleeping Tess’ arms.
Newport Nutcracker at Rosecliff is very enchanting. The audience is seated among the scenes themselves; this is dance up close. The grandeur of the mansion, the addition of the beautifully decorated trees, the costumes and most especially the dancing is a perfect way to enhance your holiday season. There is no better way to welcome in the holidays than to experience this very unique production.
To purchase tickets visit IslandMovingco.org. Remaining performances of Nutcracker at Rosecliff are November 27 – 30.