Greater Pittston residents involved in jazz-infused performance of ‘The Nutcracker’


Greater Pittston residents involved in jazz-infused ‘Nutcracker’ performance

By Mary Therese Biebel - [email protected]



Julia Randazzo, 16, twirls during a rehearsal for ”The Nutcracker’ with a Touch of Jazz,’ which the Dance Theatre of Wilkes-Barre will present 3 p.m. Dec. 13 at Downtown Arts.


Sean McKeag | Sunday Dispatch

The dancers from The Dance Theatre of Wilkes-Barre take the stage to rehearse a jazz version of ‘The Nutcracker’ at the Downtown Arts building in Wilkes-Barre.


Sean McKeag | Sunday Dispatch

Julia Randazzo, center, as Clara and Lucy Lew, at left, as Clara’s sister Frannie, welcome guests to a party in ”The Nutcracker’ with a Touch of Jazz.’


Sean McKeag | Sunday Dispatch

IF YOU GO

What: ‘“The Nutcracker’ with a Touch of Jazz”

When: 3 p.m. Dec. 13

Where: Downtown Arts, 47 N. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre

Tickets: $10

WILKES-BARRE — Hey, where’s Drosselmeyer?

Doesn’t Clara need an eccentric uncle/godfather to bring her a special square-jawed soldier? How can you have a Nutcracker ballet without Drosselmeyer?

“Clara has a godmother instead,” choreographer Gina Malsky of West Pittston said with a grin, explaining how she’s introduced some fresh touches to ” ‘The Nutcracker’ with a Touch of Jazz,” which Ballet Theatre of Wilkes-Barre will perform at 3 p.m. Dec. 13 at Downtown Arts in Wilkes-Barre.

Clad in a fur jacket, boots and plenty of bling, including a necklace of Christmas-tree garland, Bridget Giunta Husted of Wyoming will dance the role of Clara’s godmother, a character she describes as someone who doesn’t exude Drosselmeyer’s air of mystery. The godmother simply wants to have a good time.

While the show’s music is recognizable Tchaikovsky, it’s a jazzy version.

And it’s fun, dancers Ainsley Dean of Mountain Top and Abby Lazecki of Old Boston said as they waited to rehearse on a recent Saturday.

The two girls, both 11, said they portray friends of Clara.

“I give her a dress,” Ainsley said.

“I give Clara a crown,” Abby added, explaining yet another girlfriend will present Clara with her most notable gift — the nutcracker.

By the way, this ballet boasts no mischievous brother Fritz ready to break Clara’s new toy. Instead, there’s a younger sister named Frannie and the nutcracker doesn’t break.

Even the traditional battle between mice and toy soldiers has become “more of a dance off,” Malsky said, describing the struggle as “polite and pleasant.”

But the biggest difference between “‘The Nutcracker’ with a Touch of Jazz” and more traditional versions of “The Nutcracker” is the dancing, which has expanded to include tap and modern as well as ballet.

“I feel like I’m a cheetah,” said 11-year-old Ava Rittle, of Sinking Spring, who sports an animal-print leotard and dances a solo to a percussive beat.

Just when you think you’ve spotted an unchanged tradition, such as 17-year-old Kayla Hostetter, of Lancaster, stretching luxuriously in every direction to the strains of the Arabian dance, you’ll see her join hands with Ava and turn a somersault in tandem.

“The Nutcracker” is a wonderful part of the holiday season, Malsky said, but she’s enjoyed giving it some fresh tweaks such as a “waltz of toys” instead of a “waltz of the flowers.”

Likewise, new and fresh last weekend was the backdrop Malsky’s 21-year-old daughter, Anna, finished just in time for a Saturday afternoon rehearsal. The paint was still wet, Anna Malsky noted, but the Victorian living room was ready for Clara’s party.

Julia Randazzo, 16, twirls during a rehearsal for ”The Nutcracker’ with a Touch of Jazz,’ which the Dance Theatre of Wilkes-Barre will present 3 p.m. Dec. 13 at Downtown Arts.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_TTL121115jazznutcracker1.jpgJulia Randazzo, 16, twirls during a rehearsal for ”The Nutcracker’ with a Touch of Jazz,’ which the Dance Theatre of Wilkes-Barre will present 3 p.m. Dec. 13 at Downtown Arts. Sean McKeag | Sunday Dispatch

The dancers from The Dance Theatre of Wilkes-Barre take the stage to rehearse a jazz version of ‘The Nutcracker’ at the Downtown Arts building in Wilkes-Barre.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_TTL121115jazznutcracker2.jpgThe dancers from The Dance Theatre of Wilkes-Barre take the stage to rehearse a jazz version of ‘The Nutcracker’ at the Downtown Arts building in Wilkes-Barre. Sean McKeag | Sunday Dispatch

Julia Randazzo, center, as Clara and Lucy Lew, at left, as Clara’s sister Frannie, welcome guests to a party in ”The Nutcracker’ with a Touch of Jazz.’
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_TTL121115jazznutcracker3.jpgJulia Randazzo, center, as Clara and Lucy Lew, at left, as Clara’s sister Frannie, welcome guests to a party in ”The Nutcracker’ with a Touch of Jazz.’ Sean McKeag | Sunday Dispatch
Greater Pittston residents involved in jazz-infused ‘Nutcracker’ performance

By Mary Therese Biebel

[email protected]

IF YOU GO

What: ‘“The Nutcracker’ with a Touch of Jazz”

When: 3 p.m. Dec. 13

Where: Downtown Arts, 47 N. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre

Tickets: $10

Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT

Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT

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