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Evanstonian Shares Her Art with Her Community In an Original Christmas Show
All fans of The Nutcracker and the Wizard of Oz can rejoice because Fleetwood Jourdain’s The Nutcrackerish is just the show you’ve been waiting for.
This modern-day, original adaptation of The Nutcracker was written and choreographed by Evanston-born and raised Kara Roseborough and directed by her father, Tim Rhoze, the artistic director of Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre. The father-daughter team is excited to show something new to the Evanston community.
For Ms. Roseborough – actor, writer, and professional ballet dancer – creating The Nutcrackerish has been an experience to remember.
“I wanted to do ‘The Nutcracker’ for a long time,” she said. “It’s iconic.” However, she wanted to do something that audience members would not see elsewhere.
This sparked her desire to fuse “The Nutcracker” with “The Wizard of Oz,” which she says she has watched every year during the holiday season.
Stories such as the Harry Potter series, the Chronicles of Narnia and the Wizard of Oz have always had a place in her heart. These are stories where children discover magic and maybe even become magic themselves. The “Wizard of Oz” in particular has had a deep affect on her because Dorothy isn’t magic. Ms. Roseborough said, “she’s ordinary, but it’s her ordinariness that becomes extraordinary.”
This all makes it a perfect play to join Fleetwood’s annual family holiday show. Similar to last year’s celebrated modern adaptation of “The Gift of the Magi,” “Nutcrackerish” combines the original Tchaikovsky score with some hip-hop flare.
Most of the characters will be a hybrid of those found in “The Nutcracker” and the “The Wizard of Oz,” with a few favorites from “The Nutcracker” kept or expanded. Clara, the protagonist of “The Nutcracker,” is kept, with a dash of Dorothy sprinkled in, making her a strong, positive female lead.
Directed by Mr. Rhoze, this three-person cast will feature artists of various acting, dancing and musical backgrounds.
Along with Ms. Roseborough the cast will feature Evanston locals Eldridge Shannon and Tuesdai Perry. Each performer will be playing multiple roles and bringing different performance elements to the show.
“It’s not the original ‘Nutcracker,’” said Ms. Roseborough. “But it’s just as whimsical and just as fun.”
She says her goal, and Mr. Rhoze’s as well, is to create an intimate environment that people might not normally experience while seeing “The Nutcracker” performances in traditional venues.
When asked about “Nutcrackerish,” Mr. Rhoze said he is very enthusiastic about the project. “The aim of Fleetwood is to bring the community together,” he said. “This show is for everyone.
“I’m very excited that my daughter is the one taking the reins of the writing, choreography, and performance. … It’s a born-and-raised Evanstonian sharing her art and talents with the community.”
Performances of “The Nutcrackerish” will take place the weekends before and after Christmas: Dec. 22, 23, 29, and 30 in Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St.
Saturday shows will be at 7 p.m. and the Sunday matinees will be at 3 p.m. Tickets are currently on sale at www.fjt.org.
All wannabe sugar plum fairies and toy soldiers of every age should participate in the Dance-It-Yourself Nutcracker, at 10 a.m. on Dec. 1 at Gibbs-Morrison Cultural Center, 1823 Church St.
The mother/daughter team of an Evanston Township High School student and a former professional dancer returns again this year. They have plumbed thrift stores and rummage sales for a broad selection of props, costumes and accessories, so performers of every size can participate in the modulated mayhem.
They will lead participants through the story using extra-large Post-ups and Tchaikovsky’s marvelous music, and everyone may watch or join in as inspired. This event is free and open to all ages. Anyone wishing more information may call 847-448-8263.
‘Duke It Out’
The Music Institute presents an unusual version of The Nutcracker, alternating music from the classical (Tchaikovsky) and jazz (Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn) scores with choreography curated by Dance Chicago. Musicians include members of Axiom Brass and Music Institute Ensemble-in-Residence Quintet Attacca in a performance that runs a family-friendly 60 minutes, followed by a festive holiday reception with refreshments and a photo booth with the artists.
This family concert takes place at 2 p.m. on Dec. 8 at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave.