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Department of Theatre and Dance

UW Theatre and Dance Premieres "Western" Nutcracker

Nov. 17, 2006 -- The University of Wyoming Department of Theatre and Dance will celebrate the holiday season with the perennial family favorite, “The Nutcracker.”

The production can be seen Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m., and Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. in the College of Arts and Sciences auditorium. Tickets cost $16 for the public, $13 for senior citizens, and $8 for students. For tickets and information call (307) 766-6666 or go online at

Based on the early 19th century German fairytale by E.T.A Hoffman with music by Tchaikovsky, the classic ballet is about a young girl who receives a nutcracker for Christmas that spurs on her fantastical dreams. The UW ballet also features performances by local children and community members.

After the 2002 performance of “The Nutcracker” (UW presents the classic every four years), it became clear that many of the aging costumes and set pieces were falling apart and would have to be replaced. But rather than view this as an obstacle, Lee Hodgson, professor of theatre and dance, created a unique “Nutcracker,” one that suits the spirit of Wyoming and the West.

“Lee suggested quite literally placing Clara's story in her Laramie home, and determined that she be an ‘Ivinson’ of Laramie rather than a ‘Strahlbaum’ of Germany or Russia," says Marsha Knight, professor of theatre and dance.

With the support of Department Head Rebecca Hilliker and the artistic team, Hodgson began researching the project with Joney Wilmot, the curator of the Laramie Plains Museum, and Mary Mountain, its administrator. Original photographs from the museum formed the basis of Hodgson's costume designs, while the mansion inspired the set designs, which are being created by Ron Steger, scenic artist and professor emeritus in the department.

Many scenes in the ballet are set in Laramie's historic Ivinson Mansion circa 1890, with the setting, costumes, and characters re-imagined as being part of Laramie's early days. For example, folk heroes such as the "Hole-in-the-Wall Gang" and Cattle Kate are the romantic models for the mice in Clara's dream.

“‘The Nutcracker’ has been produced with many different looks, updates, and variations, but this production will have a genuine home in this community,” Knight says. “The depth of research, efforts by all artists to look respectfully to our past, to render those images with both awe and humor have made this a moving experience."

Posted on Friday, November 17, 2006


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