Nutcracker debuts Sunday in Sugar Land

(Photo: Adam Bennett)
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A Houston holiday tradition is one step closer to bouncing back after Hurricane Harvey devastated its home theater.

The production crew for Houston Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” spent Wednesday assembling the set for its first 2017 show on Sunday in a new show and a new city, unloading 20 semi-trucks worth of production gear, including 450 lights.

Since Monday, about 80 men and women have been working around the clock inside of the Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land building the winter fantasyland on stage, something that itself seemed like a fantasy three months earlier.

In August, Harvey devastated the Houston Ballet’s home, the Wortham Theater Center in downtown Houston, submerging the basement and parts of the first floor, including the main stage and several rows of seats, with 12 feet of water.

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The good news? While the floodwater destroyed costumes from more than 50 Houston Ballet productions, those from the Nutcracker were moved to higher ground and spared.

Andrew Nielsen, Director of Production with Houston Ballet, says Harvey cut their show prep time down from six or seven months to just one month.

“We’ve had to take this production that was specifically built for the Wortham and modify it and change it so that we could get it in here to Smart Financial Centre and make decisions that can also make it go into the Hobby Center without having to modify it on Christmas Day as we change venues,” said Nielsen.

Neilsen says because the show will take place on two completely new stages, some of the staging, dancing, and choreography have been altered. However, he says the stage design at the Smart Financial Centre will allow for more interaction between the audience and performers.

The 28-show run for “The Nutcracker” starts Sunday, December 10, at the Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land and runs through December 23rd. It then moves to the Hobby Center from December 30th to January 6th. Tickets are still available for both runs.