1983, two years after the opening of the Long Beach
ballet school and only one year after the humble
beginnings of a new professional ballet company, David
Wilcox was offered a spot at the Long Beach Terrace
Theater to produce a new production of “The Nutcracker.”
In the spirit of adventure and with the confidence borne
only from the success of his first full-length
choreography, Hansel and Gretel, Wilcox set about the
task of creating, from scratch, a theatrical
extravaganza that to become Southern California’s
favorite holiday performance.
He assembled a team
including former Disney designer Elliot Hessayon, flying wizard Peter Foy,
Universal Studios pyro-technician John Bordeaux, and even Traveler the Trojan
Horse, venturing into an experiment of theatrical wizardry ahead of its time,
especially for classical ballet.
In the photo above,
Helena Ross performed the role of Clara for three years and then grew into the
roles of the Dewdrop Fairy and the Sugar Plum fairy before joining the Vienna
State Opera Ballet.
In the photo at right we see the sparse 2nd act scenery
that dressed the stage for the first performances in
1983 and 1984, both in Long Beach and at the Dorothy
Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles.
Over the ensuing 28 years, this production was seen by
over half of a million people in numerous theaters,
including the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Shrine
Auditorium, and the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, but the
theater for which the production was designed, the
elegant and spacious Terrace Theater, has been its host
for 25 of the last 28 years.
1996 and 1997 excerpts were presented live on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Following the 1997 Nutcracker season, Long Beach
Ballet's professional company ceased operations and for
the following three years Wilcox staged the production
with the students from his Academy in a high school
1999 China's second largest classical ballet company,
the Guangzhou Ballet, engaged Wilcox to recreate his
version of the ballet for them, purchasing the rights to
perform it throughout the world which they have done
consistently for the past 11 years (photo right).
The technical and artistic growth of the students
eventually allowed Wilcox to take the production back to
the Terrace Theater in 2002 and then by the year 2009
once again to the Pasadena Civic where the audience
doubled in size from 2009 to 2010.
The 2012 production will celebrate the 30th Anniversary
and many amazing plans are being developed to make it a