Making a New American Nutcracker

FULL EPISODE

Making a New American NUTCRACKER

Join narrator Neve Campbell and the creative team behind The Joffrey Ballet’s new production of Christopher Wheeldon’s “The Nutcracker,” a bold re-imagining of the Christmas classic that places Marie in the humble home of a 19th Century immigrant family where she falls asleep and dreams of a journey through the Chicago World’s Fair.

AIRED: November 16, 2017 | 0:56:56
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

NARRATOR: IT'S A BRAND-NEW "NUTCRACKER."

WOMAN: CHRISTOPHER WHEELDON IS A CHOREOGRAPHER

WHO HAD A BRILLIANT IDEA TO PLACE "THE NUTCRACKER"

IN THE CHICAGO WORLD'S FAIR.

MAN: HE WANTED TO DO "THE NUTCRACKER"

WITH POOR PEOPLE INSTEAD OF RICH PEOPLE.

WORKING IN THE WORLD'S FAIR.

MAN 2: IT'S MAMMOTH. IT'S THE SIZE OF A BROADWAY MUSICAL,

BIGGER THAN A BROADWAY MUSICAL.

WOMAN 2: HIS WORLD OF THEATER AND BALLET,

THERE SHOULD BE A NEW WORD FOR IT.

NARRATOR: COME BEHIND THE SCENES

AND SEE THE MAKING OF A NEW AMERICAN "NUTCRACKER."

MAN 2: THE STORY BEHIND THAT STORY, IT'S EPIC.

["RUSSIAN DANCE" PLAYING]

ANNOUNCER: "MAKING A NEW AMERICAN NUTCRACKER"

IS MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH THE GENEROSITY OF THE GRAINGER FOUNDATION

OF LAKE FOREST, ILLINOIS.

[CLASSICAL MUSIC PLAYING]

YOU'RE READY!

MAN, VOICE-OVER: DANCE IS MY LIFE.

I STARTED WHEN I WAS 6 YEARS OLD

IN OUR LITTLE VILLAGE IN SCOTLAND

IN A TINY PLACE CALLED COULTER.

THERE WAS A COMMUNITY HALL, AND ONCE A WEEK,

THEY WOULD HAVE A BALLET CLASS,

AND MY TEACHER PUSHED ME AT A VERY YOUNG AGE

AND GOT ME TO GO TO LONDON TO THE ROYAL BALLET SCHOOL.

AND PROBABLY THE CLOSEST WAY IS TO THINK OF BILLY ELLIOT.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

LIFT.

WHEATER, VOICE-OVER: WHEN I CAME TO AMERICA,

DANCED IN THE JOFFREY BALLET IN THE EIGHTIES,

AND THEN WENT TO SAN FRANCISCO BALLET

BEFORE I BECAME THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AT THE JOFFREY BALLET.

ONE LAST GROUP. OK, GUYS?

WOMAN: IT TURNED OUT TO BE A REAL INSPIRED CHOICE

TO BRING HIM HERE.

HE KNOWS EVERYBODY IN THE DANCE WORLD.

AND HE ALSO UNDERSTOOD THAT ONE OF THE WAYS

TO DEVELOP THE DANCERS IN HIS COMPANY

IS TO BRING IN WORLD-CLASS CHOREOGRAPHERS

WHO WOULD BUILD NEW PIECES ON THESE DANCERS.

I'LL COME AND SEE YOU LATER.

OK.

NARRATOR: ASHLEY WHEATER MADE CHICAGO HIS NEW HOME

WHEN HE WAS NAMED JOFFREY BALLET'S ARTISTIC DIRECTOR IN 2007.

WHEATER FOUND HIS ADOPTED CITY INSPIRING.

WHEATER: WHEN YOU COME TO CHICAGO, IT'S SOLID.

IT'S GRANITE AND BRICK AND STEEL.

THAT STARTED MAKING ME KIND OF THINK ABOUT THE CITY

AND THE HISTORY OF THE CITY,

AND HOW YOU CAN USE YOUR CITY TO FURTHER YOUR ART.

THE WORLD'S FAIR WAS A TRULY MAGICAL TURNING POINT FOR THIS CITY,

ESPECIALLY AFTER THE GREAT FIRE.

EVERY TIME I THOUGHT ABOUT THE WORLD'S FAIR,

IT JUST SEEMED MORE AND MORE IN LINE

WITH A CHILD'S DREAM.

IT WAS A KIND OF DREAM PLACE.

SO MY MIND WAS TICKING.

WHAT WOULD IT BE LIKE IF "THE NUTCRACKER"

WAS SET IN THIS MAGICAL COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION?

NARRATOR: NOW ALL WHEATER NEEDED WAS THE RIGHT CHOREOGRAPHER.

MAN: AND I THINK HE KNEW I WOULD BE

BOTH FOOLISH AND PERHAPS ADVENTUROUS ENOUGH

TO SORT OF TAKE IT ON.

WEISS: CHRISTOPHER WHEELDON WON A TONY AWARD

FOR HIS CHOREOGRAPHY FOR "AN AMERICAN IN PARIS."

WITHOUT MUSIC, THERE IS NO DANCE

AND THE "AMERICAN IN PARIS" MUSIC TEAM...

NARRATOR: CHRISTOPHER WHEELDON'S CAREER BEGAN

AT THE ROYAL BALLET IN LONDON.

BUT THE BRITISH-BORN TEENAGER HAD DREAMS

OF JOINING THE NEW YORK CITY BALLET.

WHEELDON: I WAS SITTING AT HOME WATCHING TV

AND THERE WAS A COMMERCIAL ON TV

FOR A HOOVER VACUUM CLEANER.

TV ANNOUNCER: SPEND OVER £100 ON ANY HOOVER PRODUCT

AND WE'LL GIVE YOU TWO RETURN FLIGHT SEATS TO EITHER NEW YORK...

WHEELDON: IF YOU BOUGHT THIS CERTAIN TYPE OF HOOVER,

YOU COULD SEND OFF A VOUCHER

AND GET A FREE ROUND-TRIP TICKET TO THE U.S.

NARRATOR: HE NEVER USED THE HOOVER,

BUT WHEELDON DID JOIN THE NEW YORK CITY BALLET

AND BECAME AN ACCLAIMED CHOREOGRAPHER.

HIS PRODUCTIONS OF "SWAN LAKE" AND "SLEEPING BEAUTY,"

BOTH WITH SCORES BY RUSSIAN COMPOSER

PETER ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY, WERE REVOLUTIONARY.

NOW IT WAS TIME FOR WHEELDON TO TACKLE

TCHAIKOVSKY'S BEST-KNOWN BALLET, "THE NUTCRACKER."

FOR SO MANY PEOPLE, "THE NUTCRACKER"

IS THEIR FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH BALLET.

IT'S A GATEWAY TO DANCE.

EVERY YEAR WE'D COME AND SEE "NUTCRACKER."

I JUST REMEMBER COMING WITH MY FAMILY.

I'VE SEEN SOME SCHOOL PERFORMANCES OF "NUTCRACKER" IN JAPAN.

THE FIRST TIME I HEARD "THE NUTCRACKER"

WAS ON ONE SIDE OF A RECORD THAT MY PARENTS HAD.

THE OTHER SIDE WAS "PETER AND THE WOLF."

I DANCED IN GARDEN STATE BALLET'S

PRODUCTION OF "THE NUTCRACKER" AS AN ANGEL.

I GOT CAST TO BE CLARA, AND IT WAS IN BRAZIL, IN RIO.

WOMAN: MY FIRST ROLE IN "THE NUTCRACKER" WAS A BUFFOON.

WHAT REALLY MADE "THE NUTCRACKER" SUCCESSFUL

WAS WHEN IT CAME TO AMERICA.

GEORGE BALANCHINE DID HIS PRODUCTION OF "THE NUTCRACKER."

NARRATOR: CHRISTMAS DAY BROADCASTS IN THE 1950s

OF CHOREOGRAPHER GEORGE BALANCHINE'S "THE NUTCRACKER"

MADE IT A NATIONWIDE SENSATION.

WEISS: IT DID BECOME A CHRISTMAS RITUAL.

AND NOW EVERYBODY DOES "THE NUTCRACKER."

WEISS: IT'S A BOX OFFICE SURETY

BECAUSE IT KEEPS MANY COMPANIES AFLOAT

FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR.

NARRATOR: THE JOFFREY BALLET'S FIRST "NUTCRACKER,"

CHOREOGRAPHED IN 1987 BY ROBERT JOFFREY

WITH GERALD ARPINO,

TURNED ITS BACK ON THE TRADITIONAL EUROPEAN SETTING

AND PLACED IT IN AMERICA.

WHEATER: ROBERT JOFFREY REALLY WANTED TO MAKE IT

ABOUT CHRISTMAS IN AMERICA.

YOU FELT LIKE YOU WERE IN A CURRIER AND IVES PAINTING.

WEISS: I ALWAYS THOUGHT IT WAS LIKE

THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN-ERA VERSION.

SMITH: IT WAS SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE A POP-UP BOOK,

SORT OF, SO EVERYTHING WAS A LITTLE STORYBOOK-ESQUE.

AND, I ALWAYS FELT LIKE "OH, THIS IS REALLY COOL."

I LOVED THE PARTY SCENE.

WHEATER: THE PARTY SCENE IS REALLY ROBERT JOFFREY.

IT HAS A HALLMARK OF EVERYTHING THAT THAT MAN WAS ABOUT,

YOU KNOW, FAMILY, COMMUNITY, SPIRIT.

SPECK: THAT ENORMOUS TEAPIC.

NARRATOR: BUT ROBERT JOFFREY KEPT THE TRADITIONAL SETTING

AT A CHRISTMAS EVE PARTY

IN THE HOME OF AN UPPER-CLASS FAMILY.

LOPEZ: IT'S THIS, YOU KNOW, VERY LAVISH, WELL-TO-DO FAMILY.

A GREAT VICTORIAN HOME.

NARRATOR: THE FAMILY'S DAUGHTER MARIE--

NAMED CLARA IN SOME VERSIONS--

RECEIVES A GIFT OF A NUTCRACKER DOLL

FROM HER GODFATHER, HERR DROSSELMEYER,

A MYSTERIOUS TOY MAKER.

MARIE KIND OF GOES TO SLEEP WITH HER NUTCRACKER.

NARRATOR: SHE WAKES UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT

TO FIND THAT MICE ARE EVERYWHERE,

THE CHRISTMAS TREE HAS GROWN TO AN ENORMOUS SIZE,

AND DROSSELMEYER HAS TURNED HER DOLL INTO A PRINCE.

THE NUTCRACKER PRINCE BATTLES THE MICE,

AND WITH MARIE'S HELP, KILLS THE MOUSE KING.

THE PRINCE THEN TAKES HER TO A SNOW KINGDOM OF SWEETS.

ASSUCENA: AND THEN THERE'S THE SECOND ACT

WITH THE LAND OF SWEETS WHERE IT'S JUST COLORS

AND DIFFERENT DANCES

TO JUST KEEP YOU ENTERTAINED THE WHOLE TIME.

LOPEZ: SHE'S GREETED BY THE SUGAR PLUM FAIRY,

AND THAT'S KIND OF IT.

NARRATOR: BUT WHEATER AND WHEELDON ALWAYS FOUND

THE STORY'S MESSAGE TROUBLING.

WHEATER: MAYBE I'M JUST A WORKING-CLASS BOY,

BUT PEOPLE SEE "THE NUTCRACKER"

AS THIS VERY EXCLUSIVE WORLD.

A PRIVILEGED CHILD WHO HAS EVERYTHING IN LIFE.

SHE HAS A LOVING FAMILY.

SHE HAS A BEAUTIFUL VICTORIAN HOME.

A KID THAT HAS MORE THAN SHE COULD EVER DREAM OF.

AND THEN SHE FALLS ASLEEP

AND DREAMS OF MORE--

MORE CANDY AND MORE ENTERTAINMENT.

WHAT DO WE ALL WANT IN OUR LIFE?

SHE DOESN'T NEED THE CANDY,

SHE DOESN'T NEED THE ENTERTAINMENT.

BECAUSE MATERIAL GIFTS ARE ONE THING.

WHAT SHE REALLY NEEDS IS, YOU KNOW, IS HER FAMILY.

NARRATOR: SO WHEATER AND WHEELDON DECIDED TO FOCUS THEIR STORY

ON A WORKING-CLASS IMMIGRANT FAMILY.

HE WANTED TO DO IT WITH POOR PEOPLE INSTEAD OF RICH PEOPLE,

AND REALLY, LIKE WHAT OTHER MORE WONDERFUL THING

COULD A PERSON WHO DOES WHAT I DO HEAR?

NARRATOR: AWARD-WINNING CHILDREN'S AUTHOR BRIAN SELZNICK,

WHOSE ONLY STAGE EXPERIENCE WAS IN PUPPET THEATER,

TOOK ON THE BRAVE CHALLENGE OF WRITING THE NEW VERSION.

"THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET."

LIKE, ONE OF MY FAVORITE KID'S BOOKS.

I'M A BIG CHILDREN'S LITERATURE FAN.

JONES: BRIAN SELZNICK'S WORK IS ABOUT

HOW YOU CAN ESCAPE WHEN YOU'RE A KID BRIEFLY.

THEN YOU'RE BACK.

NARRATOR: SELZNICK'S BOOK WAS ADAPTED BY MARTIN SCORSESE

INTO THE OSCAR-WINNING MOVIE "HUGO."

SELZNICK: CHRIS SAID THAT HE HAD PUT TOGETHER

A SHORT LIST OF AUTHORS WHOSE WORK HE REALLY LOVED.

I NEVER CALLED HIM

AND SAID I HAD A SHORT LIST OF WRITERS.

I REALLY DIDN'T.

I WAS AWARE I NEEDED TO DO A HUGE AMOUNT OF RESEARCH

BECAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT BALLET

OR "THE NUTCRACKER" OR MUSIC OR DANCE OR CHRIS.

NARRATOR: THE CHICAGO WORLD'S FAIR OF 1893,

ALSO KNOWN AS THE WORLD'S COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION,

CELEBRATED THE 400th ANNIVERSARY

OF COLUMBUS' ARRIVAL IN THE NEW WORLD.

SELZNICK: FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE,

THE IDEA THAT THE WORLD WAS BROUGHT TOGETHER

IN THIS ONE LOCATION,

IT MADE THE WORLD FEEL SMALL, I THINK,

AT A TIME WHEN IT JUST SIMPLY DIDN'T.

NARRATOR: THE FAIR WAS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE CITY

TO SHOW THE WORLD IT HAD RISEN FROM THE ASHES

OF THE GREAT FIRE OF 1871.

MAN: MANY OF THESE BUILDINGS WERE THE LARGEST BUILDINGS

THAT WERE EVER BUILT AT THAT TIME.

THERE WAS ONE HALL, THE MANUFACTURERS' HALL,

WHICH WAS SO LARGE.

THERE WAS A QUOTE

THAT THE STANDING RUSSIAN ARMY COULD FIT IN THERE

AND STILL HAVE ROOM TO SPARE.

ONE OF THE GREAT INNOVATIONS OF THE FAIR

WAS THE INTRODUCTION OF THINGS ELECTRICAL.

AND SO RATHER THAN GAS LIGHT OR CANDLES,

WE HAVE ELECTRICITY

AND THE BIRTH OF THE FERRIS WHEEL.

BEY: THE TALLEST BUILDING IS ONLY, YOU KNOW,

150 FEET, MAYBE 200 FEET TALL,

AND THIS FERRIS WHEEL IS TALLER THAN THAT AT THE TOP,

HIGHER THAN ALMOST ANYONE HAS EVER BEEN

UNLESS YOU'RE ON A MOUNTAIN OR A HILL.

THERE'S THE FRONT. THAT'S THE FACADE.

THAT'S THAT FACADE...

WHEATER, VOICE-OVER: WE ALL DECIDED TO GET IN A CAR

AND GET A FEELING OF WHAT THAT LAYOUT

OF THE WORLD'S FAIR LOOKED LIKE,

BECAUSE IT WAS AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF ACREAGE.

YOU GET A SENSE OF THE GRANDEUR

OF THE ARCHITECTURE WITHIN THE PARK.

NARRATOR: THE MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY

WAS ONCE THE PALACE OF FINE ARTS.

OF THE NEARLY 100 BUILDINGS ON THE FAIRGROUNDS,

IT'S THE ONLY ONE LEFT STANDING.

WHEELDON: THEY WERE BUILT TO BE IMPERMANENT.

BEY: THEY WERE ONLY THERE FOR A SEASON,

TO KIND OF SERVE THEIR TIME AND BOW OFF THE STAGE.

AND THEN WE DISCOVERED THAT THE FAIR

WAS BUILT MOSTLY BY IMMIGRANTS WHO HAD COME IN

FROM AROUND THE WORLD TO HELP BUILD

THIS PROFOUNDLY AMERICAN THING.

BEY: AND YOU CAN SEE OLD FAIR SIGNS,

AND THERE WERE SIGNS TO WORKERS

THAT ARE WRITTEN IN EVERY LANGUAGE IN EUROPE.

NARRATOR: THE WORLD'S FAIR WAS TRULY INTERNATIONAL.

THE MIDWAY, A LONG STRETCH ON THE FAIR'S WESTERN EDGE,

WAS FILLED WITH MAKESHIFT VILLAGES

WHERE FAIRGOERS COULD VISIT INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

FROM AROUND THE WORLD FOR A SMALL FEE.

BEY: IF YOU WENT DOWN THE MIDWAY,

WHERE YOU GET THE BLACK AND BROWN PEOPLE

AND THE DARKER EASTERN EUROPEAN PEOPLE,

AND THEN YOU GET TO THIS PERFECT CITY WHERE EVERYTHING

AND EVERYBODY IS WHITE.

NARRATOR: THE FAIR WAS OPEN FROM MAY TO OCTOBER OF 1893.

SELZNICK'S JOB WAS TO ENSURE THEIR NEW "NUTCRACKER"

TOOK PLACE ON CHRISTMAS EVE.

SELZNICK: SO I SAID TO CHRIS, "WE COULD SET IT 5 MONTHS

"BEFORE THE FAIR OPENS WITH THE WORKERS

WHO ARE BUILDING THE FAIR."

NARRATOR: ONE PHOTO CAUGHT THE TEAM'S ATTENTION.

SELZNICK: THE PHOTOGRAPH OF THIS LITTLE SHACK.

WHEELDON: IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SORT OF SKELETAL STRUCTURES

OF THESE HUGE PAVILIONS.

SELZNICK: WHERE SOME OF THE WORKERS MUST HAVE LIVED

WHILE THEY WERE WORKING.

WHEELDON: THAT WAS THE INSPIRATION

FOR THE OPENING SCENE.

NARRATOR: THE FAIR'S MASTERMIND WAS ARCHITECT

AND CITY PLANNER DANIEL BURNHAM.

HIS LARGER-THAN-LIFE ACHIEVEMENTS STILL INSPIRE.

BEY: YOU KNOW, ARCHITECT/PLANNER EXTRAORDINAIRE,

THE STAR-CHITECT OF THE DAY, IF YOU WILL.

FAMOUS QUOTE-- "MAKE NO LITTLE PLANS.

THEY LACK THE MAGIC TO STIR MEN'S BLOOD."

I THOUGHT TO MYSELF,

"THAT'S WHO THE DROSSELMEYER FIGURE CAN BE."

HE IS THE PERSON WHO'S RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS MAGIC.

NARRATOR: SELZNICK NAMED THE BURNHAM-LIKE CHARACTER

THE GREAT IMPRESARIO.

WEISS: THIS PRODUCTION DOES FREE ITSELF

FROM THAT KIND OF GERMANIC MODEL

OF DROSSELMEYER THE MAGICIAN AND KIND OF FAIRYTALE CHARACTER

TO A MORE REALISTIC CHARACTER,

STILL A MAGICIAN.

SELZNICK: AND I THINK I SAW A PHOTOGRAPH OF SOME WOMEN

WHO WERE SCULPTING FOR THE FAIR,

AND I JUST LOOKED AT IT. I WAS LIKE,

WELL, THAT'S MARIE'S MOM. THERE SHE IS.

AND SO THE GREAT GOLDEN STATUE OF THE WOMAN

WITH HER ARMS RAISED, STANDING ON THE EDGE OF THE LAKE

SEEMED LIKE THE RIGHT SCULPTURE

FOR THE MOTHER TO BE WORKING ON.

AND SO I ENDED UP WRITING, I WOULD SAY,

A 20-PAGE OUTLINE OF THE ENTIRE BALLET.

HE DELIVERED ME A 35-PAGE SYNOPSIS.

PAGES AND PAGES.

WHAT I GAVE HIM WOULD HAVE REALLY MADE

A GREAT 26-HOUR BALLET.

THIS PHENOMENAL 3 1/2-HOUR, PERHAPS 4-HOUR, EPIC MOVIE.

THERE WAS JUST SO MUCH DENSITY IN IT, WHICH,

IF YOU'RE READING A BOOK, YOU TOTALLY CAN LIVE IN IT,

BUT IF YOU'RE CREATING A WORK, YOU NEED TO SIMPLIFY,

BECAUSE THE CHOREOGRAPHY THEN BECOMES

THE REST OF THE SENTENCE.

STORYTELLING IN DANCE TAKES MUCH LONGER--

TWICE AS LONG, YOU KNOW.

UM...I LOVE YOU IN A PLAY IS "I LOVE YOU."

"I LOVE YOU" IN DANCE IS A SERIES OF STEPS.

SELZNICK: I DON'T KNOW HOW LONG IT TAKES SOMEONE TO GET

FROM UPSTAGE LEFT TO DOWNSTAGE RIGHT,

BUT CHRIS COULD HEAR THE MUSIC

AND IMAGINE ESSENTIALLY AN IDEA OF HOW MUCH STORY

COULD BE COVERED IN THAT SECTION.

AND ONE DAY, I JUST SAID TO HIM, "YOU KNOW WHAT,

"BRIAN, I NEED YOU TO PUT THIS STORY

"ON ONE PAGE.

"IF YOU CAN PUT THIS STORY ON ONE PAGE,

I CAN PUT THAT ONE-PAGE STORY ON STAGE."

IT TOOK US ABOUT A YEAR TO WORK ON THE WRITTEN OUTLINE.

THIS IS MARIE AND FRITZ'S HOME.

BUT IT IS ALSO WHERE THEIR MOTHER, A SCULPTRESS,

DOES HER WORK.

SHE'S WORKING ON A GOLDEN STATUE.

NARRATOR: THE COMPANY GATHERED TO HEAR THE STORY

OF THE NEW AMERICAN "NUTCRACKER."

WHEELDON: HE KNEW AS WELL THE GAMBLE THAT IT WOULD BE

TO BE REPLACING THE JOFFREY "NUTCRACKER,"

PERHAPS THE MOST SUCCESSFUL PRODUCTION

IN THE HISTORY OF THE JOFFREY BALLET.

WHEELDON: THE PLAN IS...

MENDOZA: WHEN THE COMPANY WAS TOLD

THAT THERE WAS GOING TO BE A NEW "NUTCRACKER,"

A LOT OF US WERE ANGRY.

PEOPLE WERE VERY ATTACHED TO THE ROBERT JOFFREY VERSION.

IT'S A CLASSIC.

YOU THINK, "OH, GOD."

WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE THE "NUTCRACKER"?

I WAS KIND OF, "OH, OK, A NEW PRODUCTION. WEIRD."

IT WAS A BITTERSWEET FEELING.

I KNEW THAT IT WAS GOING TO HAVE TO HAPPEN AT SOME POINT.

WHEELDON, VOICE-OVER: THE "NUTCRACKER" CAN BE

A LITTLE BIT OF A BLACK CLOUD FOR A BALLET COMPANY, YOU KNOW.

IT HAPPENS EVERY YEAR. OFTEN YOU'RE DANCING THE SAME ROLES.

IT'S THAT MUSIC THAT WE'VE LIVED WITH

SINCE WE WERE, YOU KNOW, KIDS.

WE WERE GOING TO BE LISTENING TO "NUTCRACKER" MUSIC

FROM JULY TO DECEMBER,

WHEREAS USUALLY IT'S FROM JUST NOVEMBER TO DECEMBER.

THERE'S A CLAY MODEL OF THE STATUE ON THE TABLE,

AND MOTHER IS COVERED IN CLAY.

I'M NOT SURE ABOUT THAT, ACTUALLY.

[COMPANY LAUGHS]

ASSUCENA: WHEN I HEARD CHRIS WAS GOING TO BE

THE CHOREOGRAPHER, I COULDN'T WAIT TO SEE

WHAT HE WAS GOING TO DO.

IT WAS ALWAYS A DREAM OF MINE TO GET TO BE IN A STUDIO

AND CREATE SOMETHING WITH HIM.

WHEATER: CHRIS SAID EARLY ON

THAT THE "NUTCRACKER" SHOULD TOUCH EVERY BOY, EVERY GIRL,

EVERY MAN, EVERY WOMAN.

AND THAT FAMILY CAN GO TO THE "NUTCRACKER,"

AND THEY CAN SHARE IN THAT VALUE

OF WHAT IT IS TO BE A FAMILY.

WE WEREN'T SURE IF CHRIS WANTED CHILDREN

IN THE PRODUCTION TO START WITH.

HOW MANY CHILDREN ARE THERE IN THE CURRENT "NUTCRACKER"?

WHEATER: THERE ARE ABOUT 60.

60 IN ONE CAST?

YES.

[OVERLAPPING CONVERSATIONS, LAUGHTER]

WHEELDON, VOICE-OVER: YOU CAN'T DO THE "NUTCRACKER"

WITHOUT KIDS, AND LOTS OF KIDS.

AS THE CONCEPT GROWS, WE'LL HAVE A BETTER IDEA

OF HOW MANY KIDS WE'LL HAVE...

LOPEZ: IT WAS ROUGHLY 40 TO 50 KIDS IN EACH PRODUCTION.

MOST KIDS IN THE "NUTCRACKER" JUST HAVE TO BE REALLY CUTE.

WHEELDON: 1...

WHEELDON, VOICE-OVER: I WAS GOING TO BE PUSHING THEM.

THE DEMANDS ON THEM WOULD BE MORE AS ACTORS THAN AS DANCERS.

LOPEZ: THE WONDERFUL THING ABOUT USING CHILDREN IS THAT THEY

CAN KIND OF GO AND GO AND GO AND GO

AND THEY DON'T REALIZE THEY'RE TIRED.

WHEELDON: THEN ONE DAY I WAS LIKE, "OK, I'M GOING

"TO GIVE EACH OF YOU A LITTLE CHARACTER TRAIT OR A TIC,

"SO YOU, YOU'RE GOING TO BE THE ONE WHO'S TERRIFIED

THAT THEY'RE GOING TO GET CAUGHT."

"YOU'RE WEARING YOUR BROTHER'S HAND-ME-DOWN CLOTHES,

"AND THEY'RE ALL REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE AND REALLY TIGHT,

SO YOU'RE CONSTANTLY FIDGETING."

READY? HERE WE GO.

GUTIERREZ: IT WAS LIKE, "HERE WE GO."

LIKE "THIS IS OUR NEW 'NUTCRACKER.'

WE HAVE TO MAKE IT OURS."

NARRATOR: AT JOFFREY'S GERALD ARPINO STUDIO,

WHEELDON WENT TO WORK CREATING THE NEW CHOREOGRAPHY.

ARAI: WE START FROM NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING--

JUST CHRIS' MIND, CHRIS' IDEA.

LOPEZ: WE STARTED IN AUGUST.

ARAI: WITH THE SNOW SCENE.

IT WASN'T EVEN SNOWING!

IT WAS LIKE, SO HUMID AND HOT OUTSIDE.

PEOPLE ARE WEARING SWIMMING SHORTS,

AND WE ARE LISTENING TO SNOWFLAKES MUSIC.

ASSUCENA: WE WENT FULL BLAST.

LOPEZ: IT MOVED REALLY QUICKLY.

THERE WAS A LOT TO DO IN A SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME.

GUTIERREZ: CHRIS KNOWS US WELL.

DALY: HE KNOWS WHAT WE'RE CAPABLE OF DOING

AND HOW FAR HE COULD PUSH US.

ASSUCENA: HE WANTS TO INNOVATE

AND CREATE UNEXPECTED MOMENTS.

SO THOSE BABIES ARE CIRCLING LIKE...

LOPEZ, VOICE-OVER: CHRISTOPHER WHEELDON IS

ONE OF THE MOST INSPIRING, CHALLENGING,

SOMETIMES FRUSTRATING, ENTHUSIASTIC,

WONDERFUL PEOPLE TO WORK WITH.

OH, I'M ALL OVER THE PLACE.

I'M OPERATING THE PUPPETS.

I'M ACTING ALL OF THE ROLES.

I STILL SHOW THE MOVEMENT.

PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS STRUCK

BY THE NUMBER OF TIMES WE REPEAT THINGS

UNTIL WE GET IT RIGHT.

UM, GUYS, WHERE ARE WE?

1, 2, AND A-3. THAT'S IT.

NO, NO, NO.

2 AND A--

4 AND A--

HIS ARM WILL BE ON...

GUTIERREZ, VOICE-OVER: THINGS DIDN'T WORK OVER AND OVER

AND OVER.

LIKE, IT DIDN'T WORK, IT DIDN'T WORK, IT DIDN'T WORK.

WHEELDON: A 2, A 3, A 4 AND A--

4 AND A--YEAH, THAT'S IT.

GUTIERREZ, VOICE-OVER: THERE'S A LOT OF PEOPLE.

THERE'S A LOT OF NOISE.

IT'S REALLY HARD IN THOSE MOMENTS TO BE PATIENT.

EVERYBODY'S LIKE, "MAN, CHRIS IS, LIKE, FOCUSED, MAN."

NOTHING WAS REALLY DETERRING HIM AT ALL.

MENDOZA: CHRIS IS SOMETHING SPECIAL.

GUTIERREZ: HE CAN SEE SOMETHING BEFORE IT'S THERE.

KIND OF LIKE DANIEL BURNHAM, RIGHT?

WHEN YOU'RE WITH HIM IN THE STUDIO,

IT'S LIKE YOUR DAY IS SO FULFILLING.

IT WAS LIKE WATCHING THIS AMAZING MASTER OF CRAFT

JUST DELIVER INCREDIBLE DETAIL OUT OF HIS HEAD.

NARRATOR: THE PHYSICAL CHALLENGE

OF DANCING THE BALLET NIGHT AFTER NIGHT MEANS

THAT 5 DIFFERENT CASTS REHEARSE AT THE SAME TIME.

SELZNICK: WATCHING HOW HE GUIDED EVERYBODY

INTO THEIR CHARACTERS, HELPING EVERYONE UNDERSTAND

THE WORLD THAT THEY WERE GOING TO BE INHABITING WAS

REALLY THRILLING.

INSTRUCTORS: ...5, 6, 7...

WHEELDON: HOLD UP.

SELZNICK: I HAD NEVER BEEN IN A REHEARSAL ROOM

WITH BALLET DANCERS BEFORE.

ASSUCENA: WHEN I PLAY MARIE, I UNDERSTAND THAT SHE'S FEISTY,

SHE'S EXCITED ABOUT CHRISTMAS.

THE FIRST SCENE, SHE BUMPED INTO A FAMILY. IT'S A RICH FAMILY,

AND SHE APOLOGIZES, AND SHE LOOKS BACK,

AND SHE SEES THE DAD BEING SO CARING

WITH THE DAUGHTER,

AND YOU CAN SEE THAT SHE LONGS FOR THAT.

NARRATOR: THE MOTHER, WHO IS SCULPTING A MODEL

OF THE FAIR'S GOLDEN STATUE OF THE REPUBLIC,

BECOMES THE STATUE IN THE SECOND ACT.

MENDOZA: I WAS REALLY EXCITED

WHEN I WAS CAST AS THE GOLDEN STATUE.

DALY: I LOVE PORTRAYING THE MOTHER.

I FEEL LIKE SHE'S SUCH A STRONG WOMAN.

YOU KNOW, SHE'S A SINGLE MOM RAISING THESE TWO CHILDREN,

BUT SHE'S INCREDIBLY TALENTED.

GUTIERREZ: I DANCE THE GREAT IMPRESARIO.

LOPEZ: THE IMPRESARIO JOINS

THIS HUMBLE, LITTLE COMMUNITY CHRISTMAS PARTY.

GUTIERREZ: YOU'RE BASICALLY THE DROSSELMEYER CHARACTER.

YOU COME INTO THE CHRISTMAS PARTY,

AND YOU BRING THE GIFTS.

LOPEZ: HE'S INSTANTLY DRAWN TO MARIE'S MOTHER.

DALY: YOU KNOW, HE'S THE ARCHITECT OF THE FAIR,

AND THEY KIND OF HAVE

THIS LITTLE UNSPOKEN RELATIONSHIP THERE.

THERE'S A CONNECTION.

HE FALLS IN LOVE.

I GOT TO DANCE IT WITH MY GIRLFRIEND JERALDINE,

WHICH WAS, YOU KNOW, THE BEST.

LOPEZ: MARIE NOTICES THIS

AND HAS THIS WONDERFUL HOPE OF HAVING

THIS PERFECT FAMILY ONE DAY.

SELZNICK: MARIE GETS THIS BEAUTIFUL NUTCRACKER.

WHEATER: IF YOU HAVE NO TOYS

AND YOU GET A LOVELY WOODEN DOLL, THAT'S A BIG DEAL.

MENDOZA: AS THE MOTHER, YOU SEE YOUR DAUGHTER

AND HOW HER EYES LIGHT UP.

GUTIERREZ: HE'S SAYING, "I DON'T JUST LIKE YOU.

I LIKE YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY."

THAT'S EXTREMELY ROMANTIC.

THERE ARE LITTLE MOMENTS THAT CHRIS CHOREOGRAPHED

WHERE YOU SEE THAT INFATUATION WITH EACH OTHER.

IT'S A MUTUAL BUILDING OF LOVE.

WEISS: THEY ARE ACTORS, AND THEY REALLY DO THINK ABOUT

THEIR CHARACTERS THE WAY AN ACTOR WOULD DO IT.

AND THAT'S CRUCIAL IN THIS PIECE.

HERE WAS A CHANCE FOR DANCERS WHO ARE EXCELLENT ACTORS

TO ACTUALLY WORK ON SOMETHING THAT TOOK SOME NARRATIVE RISK.

NARRATOR: WHEELDON RADICALLY REIMAGINED THE PARTY SCENE

IN ACT ONE AS A GATHERING

OF EASTERN EUROPEAN IMMIGRANT WORKERS.

DALY: WE REFER TO IT QUITE A BIT AS THE SHACK SCENE.

ALL OF THE WORKERS COME TOGETHER FROM THE FAIR

AND DO A POTLUCK CELEBRATION.

LOPEZ: THEY DON'T CARE THAT THEY HAVE NOTHING.

WHEELDON: THE FEAST THAT THEY SHARE THAT DAY IS

THE LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER AS A COMMUNITY.

SELZNICK: WE WERE ABLE TO LOOK INTO TRADITIONS

THAT THE POLISH WORKERS MIGHT HAVE HAD AT THE TIME,

AND THINGS WERE INCORPORATED

INTO THINGS THAT THE GUESTS AT THE PARTY DO.

WHEELDON: IN A POLISH CHRISTMAS,

THE FOOD ISN'T SERVED UNTIL THE FIRST STAR IS OUT.

ALL THE WORKERS AND THE CHILDREN RUSH TO THE WINDOW,

POINTING OUT THE FIRST STAR OF THE NIGHT.

AND THEN THE PARTY BEGINS.

EVEN THE FOOD THAT'S SERVED IN THE PARTY SCENE IS

ALL BASED ON TRADITIONAL POLISH CHRISTMAS FOOD.

WE HAD REAL FOOD ON STAGE.

LOTS OF POLISH FOOD.

WE HAD PIEROGIES, I BELIEVE.

SELZNICK: THERE'S A MOMENT WHERE EVERYBODY COMES TOGETHER

TO DANCE THIS INTRICATE CIRCULAR DANCE.

LOPEZ: AND YOU GET THE FEELING THAT THIS IS SORT OF

A FOLK DANCE OF THIS IMMIGRANT COMMUNITY.

WHEELDON: I WANTED IT TO FEEL LIKE THESE WERE PEOPLE

WHO CAME FROM A TRADITION OF DANCING DURING HOLIDAYS,

GROWING UP WITH DANCE IN THEIR BLOOD.

SELZNICK: IT'S A COMMUNITY COMING TOGETHER AND CELEBRATING.

WHEELDON: IN THE FACE OF GREAT POVERTY

AND HUGE AMOUNTS OF WORK...

THEY HAVE A GREAT DEAL OF WARMTH AND LOVE

IN THIS LITTLE, TINY HUT.

DALY: WE ACTUALLY HAVE 3 MUSICIANS WHO COME ON STAGE.

SPECK: A TRIO OF IMMIGRANT MUSICIANS PLAYING FOLKSY MUSIC.

MEMBERS OF THE CHICAGO PHILHARMONIC IN COSTUME.

SPECK: CHRIS WHEELDON MADE IT VERY CLEAR THAT THE OPULENT,

ALMOST POMPOUS MUSIC OF THE ORIGINAL PARTY SCENE

MIGHT NOT WORK FOR THIS CONCEPTION.

MENDOZA: THEY WERE ABSOLUTELY STUNNING

AND INCREDIBLE TO DANCE WITH.

WHEATER: IT PULLED THE AUDIENCE INTO THAT PARTY SCENE.

HAVING THE TRIO PULLS YOUR EARS AND YOUR EYES

INTO THE CENTER OF THE STAGE.

HE'S A VERY MUSICAL CHOREOGRAPHER.

MUSIC IS IN HIS MIND ALL THE TIME.

I LOVE MUSIC.

I CAN'T ACTUALLY SIT AND LISTEN TO MUSIC

WITHOUT IMAGINING SOME KIND OF DANCE TO IT.

I IMAGINE THAT IT'S HARD TO CHOREOGRAPH

TO SOMETHING YOU KNOW SO WELL.

ACTUALLY, I THOUGHT, "OH, THIS IS GOING TO BE A BREEZE.

"I KNOW THIS SCORE FROM BEGINNING TO END.

I'M NOT GOING TO HAVE TO PREPARE AT ALL."

EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT MUSIC. WE HEAR IT ALL THE TIME.

AND EVERY TIME I'D GET TO--OR BE TRYING TO FIND

A FRESH RESPONSE, A NEW RESPONSE TO THE MUSIC,

I REALIZED THAT IT WAS A STRUGGLE.

MAN: ♪ WELL, AS HE'D OFTEN DONE BEFORE... ♪

NARRATOR: THE "NUTCRACKER'S" PRODUCTION DESIGNER,

JULIAN CROUCH, CAME TO FAME

WITH AN IDIOSYNCRATIC SHOW, "SHOCKHEADED PETER."

JULIAN CROUCH: WE THREW IT ON STAGE IN TWO OR 3 DAYS,

BUT SOMEHOW THIS SORT OF EXTRAORDINARY SHOW

CAME OUT OF IT.

IT WENT ROUND THE WORLD.

SHOCKHEADED PETER: ♪ BULLY, BULLY BOY... ♪

CROUCH: NONE OF US GOT RICH OFF IT.

NARRATOR: CROUCH INVITED HIS FRIEND, PUPPETEER BASIL TWIST,

TO JOIN THE TEAM.

TWIST'S CREDITS INCLUDE EVERYTHING

FROM HARRY POTTER FILMS

TO AN UNDERWATER ABSTRACT PUPPET SHOW

SET TO THE MUSIC OF HECTOR BERLIOZ'S

"SYMPHONIE FANTASTIQUE."

SELZNICK: 20 YEARS AGO, I WAS IN THE ORIGINAL CAST.

BASIL TWIST: HE WAS THE YELLOW PART. HEH!

I DON'T WANT TO BRAG, BUT I WAS

A REALLY, REALLY GOOD YELLOW SHAPE.

GRIFF WILLIAMS: AND HERE'S THE GREATEST ENTERTAINER

OF THEM ALL...

NARRATOR: TWIST'S GRANDFATHER HAD A TV SHOW IN CHICAGO

FEATURING MARIONETTES OF BIG BAND LEADERS.

TWIST: HIS NAME WAS GRIFF WILLIAMS.

MY GRANDMOTHER GAVE ME THOSE PUPPETS WHEN I WAS A KID.

SO IT'S SORT OF 3 POINTS.

THERE'S THE RAT, THERE'S A PIVOT, WHICH IS YOUR ARM...

TWIST, VOICE-OVER: I BRING THINGS TO LIFE.

I ANIMATE THE INANIMATE. THAT'S MY JOB.

NARRATOR: AS WHEELDON STRUGGLED WITH THE CHOREOGRAPHY,

HIS DESIGN TEAM HAD JUST AS BIG A CHALLENGE REALIZING

THE AMBITIOUS PLANS FOR SETS AND COSTUMES.

WHEELDON: AND I CAN SEE YOU, TOO. HI, JULIAN.

HI, NATASHA.

CROUCH, VOICE-OVER: HE'S A BIT LIKE PUCK

IN "MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM."

HE SORT OF APPEARS.

YOU HAVE A QUICK CONVERSATION, THEN HE'S GONE. HA HA!

BUT WHEN HE'S THERE, HIS FOCUS IS EXTRAORDINARY.

I MEAN REALLY EXTRAORDINARY.

WHEELDON: VERY SUBTLY, AND THIS WILL BE USING PROJECTION,

THE IMAGE OF THE FAIR MOVES.

PERHAPS JUST A LITTLE BIT OF FLAGS FLAPPING IN THE BREEZE,

MAYBE A LITTLE BIRD GOING ACROSS THE LAKE.

WOMAN: WE'RE ALL SORT OF STRIVING

TO REACH CHRIS' VISION.

SO THEY STARTED THE SEQUENCE TOGETHER LIKE THIS,

WITH THE POSTER HANGING BETWEEN THEM.

WHEELDON: THERE'S ROOM TO LEAD INTO...

NATASHA KATZ: I WOULD GO ANYWHERE

WITH CHRISTOPHER WHEELDON.

HE MAKES ME BETTER THAN I AM AS AN ARTIST.

HE IS-- HAS A UNIQUE ABILITY TO EXTRACT

THE BEST WORK OUT OF HIS COLLABORATORS.

WHEELDON: MAYBE GET A COUPLE OF CONSTRUCTION WORKERS...

CROUCH: CHRIS WILL ALWAYS ASK

FOR MORE THAN HE CAN POSSIBLY GET.

THERE WAS A REAL FERRIS WHEEL AT ONE POINT, BUT THAT GOT CUT.

WHEELDON: NATASHA, YOU MIGHT WANT TO WEIGH IN ON THAT.

KATZ: I THINK THAT WE HAVE TO DO A TEST

BECAUSE THE MINUTE I TURN THE LIGHT ONTO THE BACKDROP...

KATZ, VOICE-OVER: CHRIS TALKS ALL THE TIME

ABOUT, YOU KNOW, THIS IS A YOUNG KID'S FIRST EXPERIENCE,

VERY OFTEN, IN GOING TO THE THEATER OR TO THE BALLET.

CROUCH: FIRST PIECE OF LIVE,

CERTAINLY BIG-SCALE LIVE THEATER.

IF YOU DON'T IMPRESS THEM TONIGHT,

THEY MAY NEVER COME BACK WHEN THEY'RE ADULTS.

SO THIS IS A REFERENCE, A SCULPTURAL REFERENCE--

THIS BOAT--FROM THE REAL FAIR.

THIS IS A KIND OF DREAM VERSION OF WHAT THE FAIR MIGHT BE.

MAN: IN THE FINALE, THIS SCRIM IS LIT FULL FRONT,

SO YOU SEE THIS IMAGE,

BUT THEN THE LIGHTS THAT ARE ON THAT GLOW THROUGH

TO ILLUMINATE...

NARRATOR: CROUCH'S DESIGN IDEAS FOR THE NEW "NUTCRACKER"

WERE INSPIRED BY CARTOONIST WINSOR McCAY.

HIS DRAWINGS ARE FROM THE EARLY 1900s.

CROUCH: YOU LOOK AT WINSOR McCAY'S DRAWINGS,

AND YOU'VE SEEN THESE FANTASTICAL BUILDINGS

THAT ARE SORT OF LIKE CLASSICAL AND SORT OF THEATRICAL.

AND, OF COURSE, THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT THE WORLD'S FAIR WAS--

FANTASY CITIES AND UTOPIAS.

THEY WERE DREAMING...BIG.

IT WAS NEVER REAL.

IN A WAY, THIS IS ACTUALLY JUST LIKE A WINSOR McCAY THING.

YOU KNOW, WOKE UP AND IT WAS ALL A DREAM. HA HA!

NARRATOR: THE DESIGN TEAM WORKED OUT A PLAN TO GROW A TREE

THE LIKES OF WHICH HAD NOT BEEN SEEN BEFORE.

WHEELDON: IF YOU'RE DOING THE "NUTCRACKER,"

THE TREE HAS TO GROW.

NO TWO WAYS ABOUT IT.

THE LITTLE TREE SHAKES AND VIBRATES AND BEGINS TO GROW.

WITH A PUFF OF SMOKE, IT GROWS TO ENORMOUS PROPORTIONS.

SO DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT HOW THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN?

TWIST: IT'S LIKE A MULTISTAGE THING, HOW IT GROWS.

CROUCH: SO IT STARTS WITH SEEING THE SHADOW OF THE TREE.

IT STARTS TO GROW WITHIN SHADOW.

TWIST: IT'S A PUPPETEERED PIECE,

AND THE, SORT OF, SHADOW SCREEN GETS PULLED DOWN,

AND THEN THE SCENERY OPENS.

CROUCH: IF YOU SEE MY ARMS,

IT MAKES--YOU START TO SEE A TRIANGLE.

THAT BECOMES A TOP OF A TREE.

SO AS THE TREE GREW, GREW, GREW, GREW, GREW,

A VIDEO PROJECTION CAN STAY EXACTLY WITH THE TREE

AS IT GROWS LIKE THAT.

PEARCY: WE THEN OVERLAY ONTO THAT

AND TRY AS BEST WE CAN TO SORT OF CREATE

A SEAMLESS TRANSITION BETWEEN HIS WORLD

AND OUR ANIMATED WORLD.

WE STARTED WITH FILMING BASIL'S PUPPETED TREE

AND THEN ANIMATED THAT THING WE FILMED.

KATZ: AND MY JOB IS TO NOT MESS IT UP.

TWIST: I KNEW THAT BRIAN HAD PUT IN THINGS THAT WERE,

LIKE, BASILISMS, THAT HE-- YOU KNOW, "BASIL WILL DO THIS."

SO I IMAGINED THE IMPRESARIO BRINGING IN A MODEL OF THE FAIR

THAT EVERYONE IS WORKING TOGETHER TO BUILD.

WHEN HE WROTE THAT I SAID, "OK, I GET IT. I SEE WHAT YOU WANT."

WE'RE GOING TO MAKE A LITTLE SHADOW...

OF THE WORLD'S FAIR.

OF THE WORLD'S FAIR USING A LITTLE WHEEL.

AND THIS IS ONE OF THE THINGS THAT BASIL TWIST

IS GOING TO WORK ON.

TWIST: THE CHILDREN PUT ALL THESE OBJECTS ON A TABLE.

CROUCH: KITCHEN UTENSILS OR SOMETHING.

TWIST: AND THEY PULL A CURTAIN ACROSS,

AND IT MAKES A SHADOW OF THE FAIR.

AND IT WAS A VERY DIFFICULT THING TO ACCOMPLISH, ACTUALLY.

TO MAKE IT LOOK SIMPLE

AND, "OH, WE JUST DID THIS AT A PARTY, AND IT'S PERFECT,"

AND CHILDREN ARE DOING IT,

AND IT READS CLEARLY AND EVERYONE GETS WHAT IT IS,

BUT I THINK IT'S KEY TO THAT SENSE OF CHILD PLAY

AND THAT SENSE OF-- THIS SORT OF THE MINIATURE

BEFORE WE GO INTO THIS WORLD.

WHEELDON: YOU KNOW, BASIL WAS ASKING THEM

TO REALLY SUSPEND DISBELIEF.

HE BUILT A BOAT OUT OF THE TABLES NEXT DOOR.

LOPEZ: AND WE HAD BIG BILLOWING SHEETS

HANGING OFF OF A MAKESHIFT BOAT.

WHEELDON: YOU KNOW, I KEPT SAYING TO THE COMPANY,

"COMPANY, OBVIOUSLY THE BOAT ISN'T GOING TO BE MADE

"OUT OF TABLES AND CARDBOARD.

THIS IS GOING TO BE A REAL BOAT."

NARRATOR: IN TWIST'S HANDS,

THE TRADITIONAL "NUTCRACKER" MICE

BECAME CITY DWELLING RATS.

[MOTOR RUNNING]

LOPEZ: BASIL STARTED BRINGING US LITTLE STYROFOAM MICE ON STICKS.

I DON'T THINK WE EVER PINPOINTED WHETHER THEY WERE MICE OR RATS.

WE KEPT IT FLUID.

GUTIERREZ: THESE THINGS THAT LOOK LIKE NOTHING

ALL OF A SUDDEN ARE MOVING MICE AND RATS ALL OVER.

DALY: THEY WERE SCARY. I WAS SCARED. HA HA!

TWIST: I TRY AND MAKE EVERYTHING FOR THE DANCERS

AS INTUITIVE AS POSSIBLE FOR THEM,

THAT IT DOESN'T TAKE AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF TECHNIQUE.

DALY: IT'S A LOT OF PRESSURE HANDLING THE PUPPETS.

YOU DON'T WANT TO BE RESPONSIBLE IF ANYTHING GOES WRONG. HA HA!

TWIST: I THINK IT'S BETTER IF IT'S ONE OF THESE MICE

THAT'S LIKE "HEY, WHAT'S UP"...

TWIST, VOICE-OVER: IT'S PART OF MY JOB

TO MAKE SURE THEY START TO LOVE THEIR LITTLE PUPPET

INSTEAD OF IT BEING A WEIRD TORTURE DEVICE.

NARRATOR: TWIST WORKED CLOSELY WITH THE DANCER

WHO PLAYS THE RAT CATCHER...

AND LATER THE RAT KING.

TWIST: THERE WERE ALSO MAGNETS ON THE COSTUME

SO THAT THE RAT COULD ACTUALLY STICK ON HIS HAT

OR ON HIS SHOULDER.

KATZ: AS THE LIGHTING DESIGNER, I HAD TO FIND A WAY

TO LIGHT THE RATS WITHOUT SEEING THE PUPPETEERS.

IT'S A SLEIGHT OF HAND, REALLY.

I MEAN, YOU MIGHT CALL A LIGHTING DESIGNER

IN A WAY A MAGICIAN,

BECAUSE WE DO SLEIGHT OF HAND ALL THE TIME.

LIGHTING CAN HIDE A LOT OF THINGS.

WE WANTED TO HAVE RATS SCAMPERING ON THE ROOF,

BUT IT'S MORE COMPLICATED.

SO WE DID IT WITH PROJECTIONS.

PEARCY: WE JUST TOOK SOME FOOTAGE OF BASIL PUPPETING RATS.

TWIST: THEY JUST MULTIPLIED THEM,

PUT IT ALL OVER THE PLACE.

NARRATOR: THE COSTUMES PRESENTED DESIGN CHALLENGES, TOO.

ARAI: I DID THE NUTCRACKER PRINCE.

HE BATTLES WITH THE MOUSE KING,

AND THEY PLACED THAT HAT ON MY HEAD.

CROUCH: THERE'S NO WAY ANY OF THOSE NUTCRACKER HEADS

ARE NOT GOING TO BE CHALLENGING.

ARAI: IT DELAYS THE MOVEMENTS.

IT'S LIKE THIS WAY AND GOES THIS WAY, THIS WAY.

CROUCH: I SPENT A LOT OF TIME IN THEM,

AND I ALWAYS MAKE CHRIS COME VISIT,

AND HE GOES INTO THE STUFF, AND HE TRIES IT ON.

ARAI: YOU CAN'T REALLY SEE EITHER.

IF YOU KEEP ON CUTTING AWAY VISIBILITY STUFF,

THEN IT STOPS HAVING ANY IMPACT.

AND, ALSO, FILMS ARE MADE OF ALL THESE THINGS

AND THE CAMERA IS RIGHT IN THERE CLOSE,

AND, ACTUALLY, FOR DESIGNERS THAT'S A WHOLE OTHER ISSUE.

NARRATOR: THE "NUTCRACKER'S" SECOND ACT IS

TRADITIONALLY A PARADE OF DANCE SEQUENCES

WITHOUT A STRONG STORY.

WHEELDON: OUR AIM IS TO KEEP THE STORY GOING ALL THE WAY

THROUGH TO THE END, SO IT'S ONE BIG JOURNEY.

MARIE GOES ON A JOURNEY.

WHEATER: TO SEE THAT SNOW SCENE--THE DESIGN OF IT...

AND HOW IT SWIRLS...

INTO DIFFERENT DYNAMICS OF A SNOW SCENE--

GENTLE SNOW, A BLIZZARD.

ALL OF US WERE LIKE, "WOW! YEAH, OK, OK."

COMPANY: ♪ AH AH AH AH... ♪

SPECK: AND I REMEMBER TEXTING, TEXTING TO MY FRIEND,

"OH, MY GOD! THIS IS GOING TO BE INCREDIBLE!"

COMPANY: ♪ AH AH AH, AH AH AH AH AH... ♪

TWIST: WHEN WE OPEN THE SECOND ACT

WITH THE BOAT AND THE SILKS,

IT WANTS TO BE RAVISHING, IT WANTS TO BE GORGEOUS.

SPECK: THESE INCREDIBLE PROJECTIONS,

INCLUDING SOME FOG AND CLOUDS,

THAT GIVE WAY TO THE ACTUAL WORLD FAIR.

ASSUCENA: AND THEN SHE DREAMS ABOUT THE WORLD'S FAIR.

MENDOZA: MARIE DREAMS THAT HER MOTHER BECOMES

THE GOLDEN STATUE.

THE IMPRESARIO IS WITH HER IN HER DREAMS.

DALY: AND IT'S JUST BEAUTIFUL HOW ALL OF THE CHARACTERS

STAY COMPLETELY LINKED.

IT'S A VERY BEAUTIFUL EVOCATION OF WHAT'S GOING ON

INSIDE OF HER HEART.

NARRATOR: THE WORLD'S FAIR SETTING MEANT THAT IN ACT TWO,

MARIE COULD JOURNEY

TO THE MIDWAY'S INTERNATIONAL PAVILIONS.

SELZNICK: SUDDENLY WE HAVE ACTUAL JUSTIFICATION

FOR ALL OF THOSE DANCES IN THE SECOND ACT.

WHEELDON: I JUST SORT OF HAD FUN FINDING A WAY TO EVOKE

THE WORLD'S FAIR AS A SERIES OF SHOWS,

OF PAVILIONS, OF ENTERTAINMENT.

["ARABIAN DANCE" PLAYING]

WHEELDON: THERE IS A SEXINESS TO THE ARABIAN MUSIC.

AND THE FACT THAT I ACTUALLY MADE A DANCE THAT KIND OF

BRINGS DOWN THE HOUSE EVERY NIGHT TO THE ARABIAN MUSIC

MAKES ME VERY HAPPY.

KATZ: HIS WORLD OF THEATER AND BALLET,

THERE SHOULD BE A NEW WORD FOR IT.

SMITH: IN THE SECOND ACT, THERE'S A LITTLE KID'S DANCE

THAT I THINK IS PRETTY TOP-NOTCH. HA HA!

LOPEZ: I REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME I HEARD ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY

OF DANCING WALNUTS.

I THOUGHT TO MYSELF, "OK, I THINK WE'VE GONE TOO FAR

BEFORE WE'VE EVEN STARTED."

IT'S BASICALLY A WALNUT WITH LEGS--

TWO LITTLE LEGS STICKING OUT FROM UNDERNEATH IT.

SMITH: I LAUGHED EVERY TIME I SAW IT.

LOPEZ: THERE ARE ALSO CHILDREN THAT ARE NUTCRACKERS,

AND THE NUTCRACKERS ARE COMING TO ATTACK THE WALNUTS.

WHEELDON: WE JUST FELT LIKE YOU CAN'T HAVE A "NUTCRACKER"

WITHOUT HAVING SOME CHILDREN DRESSED

AS DANCING WALNUTS.

WELL, YOU KNOW, SO FUN. WHY NOT?

GUTIERREZ: BUFFALO BILL WAS CREATED ON ME.

WHEATER: BUFFALO BILL. HA HA! I THINK BUFFALO BILL WAS BOLD.

NARRATOR: BUFFALO BILL CODY SET UP HIS WILD WEST SHOW

RIGHT OUTSIDE THE GATES OF THE FAIR.

GUTIERREZ: IT'S LIKE ONE OF THE THINGS IN THE SECOND ACT

THAT'S NOT IN ANY OTHER SECOND ACT ANYWHERE ELSE.

WHEATER: THE RHYTHM IN THE "RUSSIAN DANCE" IS SO CORRECT

FOR THE RHYTHM OF BUFFALO BILL.

WELL, I MEAN, THINK ABOUT IT. IT'S A HOEDOWN.

IT'S A RUSSIAN HOEDOWN.

SO IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE TO PLAY IT FOR COWBOY MUSIC, RIGHT?

WHEELDON: IT REMINDS ME OF...

[HUMS "BONANZA" THEME]

IT'S LIKE THIS-- THERE'S A LITTLE--

THERE'S A LITTLE--I THINK A LITTLE BIT OF LIKE "BONANZA,"

LIKE, HA HA!

GUTIERREZ: AND IT'S HILARIOUS.

YOU DON'T THINK IT'S GOING TO WORK,

AND THEN YOU GO AND YOU START,

AND YOU'RE LIKE, "OH, MY GOD. THIS IS CRAZY."

LIKE, IT TOTALLY WORKS. IT TOTALLY WORKS.

NARRATOR: IN BALLET, A COUPLE DANCING IS CALLED A PAS DE DEUX.

AND IN THE "NUTCRACKER," THERE IS A GRAND PAS DE DEUX.

IT'S A CHANCE FOR THE COMPANY'S BEST DANCERS

TO WOW THE AUDIENCE.

GUTIERREZ: CHRIS' BEST WORK, I THINK, IS DONE

WHEN HE'S CHOREOGRAPHING PAS DE DEUX.

HIS PAS DE DEUX ARE REALLY SOMETHING ELSE.

SPECK: THE GRAND PAS DE DEUX IS SO DIFFERENT

FROM ANY OTHER GRAND PAS DE DEUX

BECAUSE THE IMPRESARIO FALLS IN LOVE WITH MARIE'S MOM.

AND THAT'S UNHEARD OF, RIGHT, IN ANY OTHER "NUTCRACKER."

AND CHRIS TOLD ME THAT HE ALWAYS FELT

THAT THE MAIN THEME OF THE GRAND PAS DE DEUX IS

MORE PASSIONATE THAN MOST OF THE OTHER THEMES

IN THE WHOLE BALLET.

IT'S A LOVE THEME.

WHEELDON: WE NEEDED AN EMOTIONAL CLIMAX.

WE NEEDED THAT MUSIC TO PAY OFF IN SOME WAY.

SPECK: NOW YOU'VE GOT FLESH-AND-BLOOD LOVE GOING ON.

DALY: I REMEMBER THE DAY THAT CHRIS CHOREOGRAPHED

THE PART DURING THE GRAND PAS DE DEUX

WHERE THE QUEEN OF THE FAIR AND THE GREAT IMPRESARIO

ARE IN AN EMBRACE.

WHEELDON: I WAS STRUGGLING A LITTLE BIT WITH, OK,

HOW AM I GOING TO--HOW CAN I...

HOW CAN I BRING MARIE SOMEHOW INTO THE PICTURE?

HOW CAN I SHOW THE AUDIENCE

THAT THIS IS EVERYTHING THAT SHE'S EVER DREAMED OF?

MENDOZA: AND MARIE ENTERS.

LOPEZ: AND MARIE FINISHES THE EMBRACE BY MOVING HIS ARM.

DALY: AND I REMEMBER IN THE STUDIO WHEN HE DID IT,

I HAD GOOSEBUMPS ALL OVER.

I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT.

GOT CHOKED UP AND TEARY-EYED.

I JUST THOUGHT, THIS IS INCREDIBLE.

SO TOUCHING.

IT'S COOL TO SEE SOMETHING CREATED

AND YOU WERE IN THE ROOM WHEN IT WAS BEING CREATED.

WHEELDON: IT'S MAMMOTH. IT IS LIKE A MUSICAL.

IT'S THE SIZE OF A BROADWAY MUSICAL,

MAYBE EVEN BIGGER THAN A BROADWAY MUSICAL.

MICHELLE BOONE: HOW ARE YOU?

BRIAN JOHNSON: I'M WELL.

GOOD TO SEE YOU...

BRIAN SMITH: IS EVERYBODY READY?

YEAH!

SMITH: ALL RIGHT. LET'S DO IT.

[APPLAUSE]

CAMERON: GOOD MORNING AND WELCOME.

TODAY I'M GOING TO TRY AND CHANNEL

A LITTLE BIT OF MY INNER DROSSELMEYER

AS WE ANNOUNCE AND SHARE THE PLANS OF OUR NEW "NUTCRACKER."

CAMERON, VOICE-OVER: YOU DON'T THINK OF A PRESS CONFERENCE

AS FEELING MAGICAL,

BUT I THINK WE ALL WERE...

YOU KNOW, WE ALL FELT THE ENERGY.

WHEELDON: BUT THROUGH AN EPIC MAGICAL CHRISTMAS JOURNEY...

WHEATER: SO THE "NUTCRACKER" HAS BEEN A PART OF MY LIFE

FOR THE LAST 50 YEARS...

SELZNICK: AND MYSELF, AS A STORYTELLER, LEARNING

WHERE WE CAN BEND THE STORY...

CAMERON: IT WAS VERY MUCH THAT SPACE OF TEAMWORK.

SELZNICK: ...ON TRACK WITH THE ELEMENTS THAT WE ALL LOVE.

CAMERON: THIS CONCLUDES THE FORMAL--

[BELL RINGING] OH, MY GOSH!

HA HA!

[APPLAUSE]

TICKETS FOR THE "NUTCRACKER" WENT ON SALE

AT 10:00 THIS MORNING.

NARRATOR: THERE WAS ONE PARTICULAR AUDIENCE MEMBER

EVERYONE KNEW WOULD BE IMPORTANT TO GET ON THEIR SIDE,

ESPECIALLY IN A TOWN AS POLITICAL AS CHICAGO.

WHEATER: WE HAD A LUNCH WITH THE MAYOR.

WITH RAHM EMMANUEL.

YOU KNOW, THE MAYOR,

OF COURSE HE'S GOT HIS OWN BACKGROUND IN DANCE.

I WAS PLAYING SOCCER, A FRESHMAN IN HIGH SCHOOL,

AND I WANTED TO IMPROVE MY SOCCER GAME IN THE OFF-SEASON.

AND MY MOTHER SAID, "TAKE DANCE."

THEY WERE SHOWING ME DIFFERENT STORYBOARDS

OF DIFFERENT CHARACTERS.

WHEELDON: HE WAS VERY, VERY NICE, BUT HE'S MATTER OF FACT.

EMANUEL: I SAID, IS THIS A ONE-YEAR PRODUCTION?

"NO, WELL, I THINK THE HOPE IS THAT, YOU KNOW, THIS IS

THE NEW 'NUTCRACKER.'"

AND HE JUST LOOKED AT ME AND IN A VERY SORT OF DRY WAY SAID--

"DON'T MESS IT UP."

AND YOU COULD PUT A WORD FOR--REPLACE "MESS." HA HA!

WHEATER: A POLITE WAY TO SAY IT IS,

YOU KIND OF GET ONE CHANCE TO DO A NEW "NUTCRACKER."

IT'S A POLITICIAN'S VERSION OF WHEN YOU SAY TO DANCERS,

"GO BREAK A LEG." IT'S LIKE "GOOD LUCK."

I WAS WAITING FOR LIKE A LITTLE, LIKE,

A LITTLE WINK OR A LITTLE, LIKE, GLISTEN.

I DIDN'T GET--I DIDN'T GET IT.

THEY FEEL THE MAYORAL EYES ON THEIR WORK.

SO I LEFT THE MAYOR'S OFFICE THINKING,

"YEAH. NO, HE'S RIGHT."

WHEELDON: WE TOLD YOU, RIGHT, THAT WE'RE BUILDING

INDIVIDUAL SNOW PACKS INTO EACH COSTUME FOR YOU SO YOU CAN

SHOOT SNOW FROM--I'M KIDDING.

[LAUGHTER]

HERE WE GO. READY?

...9 AND 1...

CAMERON: CHRISTOPHER IS IN THE STUDIO,

AND THE PROCESS IS STILL HAPPENING.

AND THEN IT'S SEPTEMBER, AND THEN IT'S OCTOBER,

AND IT'S NOVEMBER,

AND, YOU KNOW, IT'S... IT'S STILL BEING REALIZED.

NARRATOR: WITH WHEELDON HARD AT WORK,

THE COMPANY MOVED TO IOWA CITY FOR PREVIEW PERFORMANCES.

SPECK: IOWA WAS GREAT!

WE'VE HAD A RELATIONSHIP WITH IOWA CITY,

WITH THE HANCHER AUDITORIUM FOR YEARS.

THAT'S WHERE JOFFREY ORIGINALLY PREMIERED

OUR FIRST "NUTCRACKER."

SPECK: THAT IS A CONCERT HALL

THAT WOULD NOT BE OUT OF PLACE IN BERLIN OR VIENNA OR LONDON.

[MUSICIANS REHEARSING]

WE ALMOST TREATED IT AS PREVIEWS TO A BROADWAY SHOW.

WE HAD TWO WEEKS TO WORK WITH THE SETS

WE HAD NEVER SEEN,

TO WORK WITH THE PROPS THAT WE HAD NEVER SEEN.

THAT'S UNHEARD OF IN THE BALLET WORLD.

NARRATOR: NEW SETS AND PROPS WERE INTEGRATED

DURING COMPLEX TECHNICAL REHEARSALS,

CALLED "TECH" FOR SHORT.

BUT THAT WAS HARDLY THEIR BIGGEST CHALLENGE.

OH, MY GOD! CHRIS FELL INTO THE ORCHESTRA PIT.

WHEELDON: IT WAS DAY ONE. IT WAS THE FIRST DAY OF TECH.

AND ME AND NATASHA AND BEN.

WE WERE LOOKING AT THE TREE EFFECT, OF THE SHADOW.

I HAD WALKED DOWN TO THE EDGE OF THE ORCHESTRA PIT

WITH MY CAMERA.

AND I WAS BEHIND THE CURTAIN,

AND HE WAS IN FRONT OF THE CURTAIN.

AND HE WAS WALKING BACKWARDS, SAYING, "YEAH,

I THINK IT'S RIGHT, I THINK IT'S RIGHT..."

I JUST STEPPED OFF, LIKE A CARTOON.

I PICTURED MYSELF LIKE ROAD RUNNER, YOU KNOW, LIKE...

[MAKES WHOOSHING SOUNDS]

STRAIGHT DOWN.

AND THEN I HEARD A "AAH!"

FALLING LIKE 15 FEET, I THINK IT WAS.

IT WAS ABOUT 12 FEET.

IT'S DEFINITELY OVER 20 FEET.

WHATEVER. NINE FEET AND ABOVE, IT'S A LONG WAY.

AND WE WERE SCREAMING AT HIM, LIKE, "CHRIS, DON'T MOVE,

DON'T MOVE."

"LIE ON YOUR BACK. DON'T MOVE."

AND I'M THINKING, "OH, MY SHOULDERS FEEL FINE.

MY NECK FEELS FINE. I HAVEN'T BROKEN MY BACK."

HE ACTUALLY LANDED ON BOTH HIS FEET,

BUT HIS RIGHT LEG BUCKLED AND HE BROKE HIS ANKLE.

IF I'D DONE IT, I'D HAVE IMPACTED MY WHOLE BODY.

I'D HAVE BEEN THIS HIGH AND BROKEN.

OF COURSE, THEY CARTED ME OFF TO THE HOSPITAL.

THEY CUT HIS VERY FANCY JEANS.

MENDOZA: TO GET THE CAST ON.

HE WAS A LITTLE UPSET ABOUT THAT.

[LAUGHS]

THREE HOURS LATER,

HE'S BACK IN THERE IN A WHEELCHAIR.

AND NATASHA KATZ MADE THE CLASSIC JOKE, "OH, LOOK,

CHRISTOPHER WHEELED IN." HA HA!

WHEATER: ONLY CHRIS WHEELDON CAN SAY, "AT LEAST

I WASN'T SHOUTING AT THE DANCERS."

[LAUGHS]

HE HAS TO RUN AROUND, MAKE ALL THESE LIGHT CUES,

CHANGE LAST-MINUTE CHOREOGRAPHY, AND HE CAN'T GET THERE.

ARAI: YOU KNOW, BEFORE THE SHOW, WE SAY,

"OK, BREAK A LEG, BREAK A LEG."

AND I TOLD HIM, "YOU BROKE A LEG ALREADY,

SO, I MEAN, IT'S GOING TO BE A GREAT SHOW!"

CROUCH: HE MADE IT OUT OF THE WHEELCHAIR,

AND THEN IT WAS THE CRUTCHES. IT WAS LIKE, HE'D GO...

CLACK, CLACK, CLACK.

CROUCH: HE'S LIKE LONG JOHN SILVER

COMING DOWN THE CORRIDOR.

MENDOZA: IT HELPED TO HAVE KAHLUA,

OUR LITTLE BOSTON TERRIER, BE THERE WITH US

BECAUSE IT PUT HIM IN A GOOD MOOD.

WHEELDON: I REMEMBER KAHLUA, LIKE, SITTING THERE OUT FRONT

EITHER WITH JERI OR WITH DYLAN.

WE WERE, LIKE, WATCHING.

YOU KNOW, IT WAS THANKSGIVING TWO DAYS LATER.

THE COMPANY CAME UP, AND I HAD

ONE OF THE MOST MEMORABLE THANKSGIVINGS EVER

AND FELT LIKE WE WERE LIVING THE SPIRIT OF THE "NUTCRACKER."

[WHEELDON SAYING COMMANDS INDISTINCTLY]

WHEELDON: SORRY ABOUT THAT.

SORRY ABOUT THAT. THIS COULD BE A LITTLE BIT FASTER.

[PIECE RESUMES]

SELZNICK: LIKE ANY FIRST OPENING,

IT FEELS LIKE A TRAIN WRECK.

IT FEELS LIKE NOTHING'S EVER GOING TO WORK,

THAT THERE'S NO WAY THIS IS GOING TO COME TOGETHER.

WHEELDON: THE TREE HAS TO BE ON THIS SIDE.

[PIECE RESUMES]

IT WAS A CRUNCH.

I DON'T THINK YOU EVER HAVE ENOUGH TIME.

CAMERON: CHRISTOPHER SAID,

"GREG, THIS IS WHEN MINUTES MAKE A DIFFERENCE."

HE WAS USING EVERY MINUTE.

AND I DON'T EVER WANT TO HAVE TO CONDUCT

THE FINAL STAGES OF A MAJOR NEW PRODUCTION IN A WHEELCHAIR.

NARRATOR: WITH SOME BUT NOT ALL OF THE KINKS WORKED OUT,

THEY HEADED BACK TO CHICAGO FOR OPENING NIGHT.

IT WAS A TOUGH JOURNEY TO THE OPENING NIGHT IN CHICAGO.

WE'D HAD A VERY BUMPY TECH. THINGS WEREN'T WORKING.

AND WE WERE HAVING TO MAKE SORT OF HIGH-PRESSURED,

LAST-MINUTE DECISIONS.

PLUS, YOU KNOW, I'M STILL IN A WHEELCHAIR AND ON CRUTCHES.

WHEATER: CHRIS HAD TO GO ON CRUTCHES EVERY SINGLE STEP.

WHEELDON: IT WAS A NERVE-WRACKING--

IT WAS A NERVE-WRACKING NIGHT.

WEISS: WHEN THE "NUTCRACKER" HAD ITS WORLD PREMIERE IN CHICAGO,

THERE WAS SNOW OUTSIDE AND THERE WAS SNOW INSIDE.

LOPEZ: EVERYONE CAME TO THE AUDITORIUM THEATER

NOT KNOWING WHAT TO EXPECT AT ALL.

WHEELDON: THE EXPECTATION WAS OFF-THE-CHARTS HIGH.

WHEATER: CHRIS AND I HAD OUR FIRST CONVERSATION

ABOUT A NEW "NUTCRACKER" FOR THE JOFFREY BALLET

ALMOST A DECADE AGO.

OOH! HA HA! I WAS EXCITED.

ASSUCENA: WHEN THE ORCHESTRA FIRST STARTS PLAYING,

YOU'RE LIKE, "OOH! CAN I DO THIS?"

WHEELDON: I FELT EVERYONE SIT FORWARD, YOU KNOW.

THE ENERGY WAS SUDDENLY VERY FORWARD.

IT'S LIKE PEOPLE WERE LIKE, "OHH!"

JUST, "OH, MY GOD. WOW! WOW! WOW! WOW!"

"WELL, THIS IS GOING TO BE DIFFERENT."

WHEATER: THEY FELT EMOTIONALLY ATTACHED FROM THE GET-GO.

SELZNICK: AND THEN LIKE ALMOST EVERY STORY YOU HEAR ABOUT

THE THEATER OR THE MOVIES, IT HAPPENS, IT COMES TOGETHER.

SMITH: IT JUST MADE ME FEEL REALLY HAPPY TO SEE

EVERYONE LOOKING AROUND IN... IN UTTER AMAZEMENT.

PEOPLE'S HEADS WERE JUST TURNSTILING,

AND THEY'RE LOOKING FOR THAT SMILE ON A KID'S FACE.

WHEATER: AND TO SEE THE WHOLE THING COME TOGETHER

IN FRONT OF 3,900 PEOPLE WAS A TRIUMPHANT MOMENT.

GUTIERREZ: I COULD SEE IT IN ASHLEY'S FACE AFTER OPENING,

LIKE, JUST THE RELIEF.

YOU KNOW, IT WAS, HE LOOKED LIKE--

I THINK HE STOOD, LIKE, A COUPLE INCHES TALLER.

JONES: I DON'T THINK I'D EVER SEEN ANYTHING

QUITE LIKE THAT BEFORE...

THAT GOT INTO THE PSYCHE OF THE CITY.

YOU THINK TO YOURSELF, "THIS IS LOCAL.

THIS HAPPENED RIGHT HERE."

EMANUEL: I THINK IT'S A GREAT PIECE.

THE STAGING WAS INCREDIBLE.

I THOUGHT THE LIGHTING WAS INCREDIBLE, THE COSTUMES.

AND HERE'S A PIECE--WE'RE IN A TIME IN WHICH THE COUNTRY'S

IN A BIG DISCUSSION ABOUT INCOME INEQUALITY.

THIS PIECE WAS A POIGNANT REFLECTION ABOUT THAT DEBATE.

[LOUD APPLAUSE]

[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]

WHEATER: TO BRING THE WHOLE THING TO A CRESCENDO

AT THE WORLD'S FAIR.

WE'VE EXPLODED.

WE GO RIGHT BACK TO THIS KIND OF SMALL--WHAT FAMILY LIFE IS.

DALY: I LOVE THAT IN THE END, WE COME BACK TO THE SHACK.

MENDOZA: MARIE WAKES UP.

WHEATER: AND THE IMPRESARIO COMES BACK.

SELZNICK: AND MOTHER INVITES THE IMPRESARIO TO SIT AT THE TABLE

AND JOIN THEM FOR BREAKFAST.

AND THERE'S THIS MOMENT, LIKE IN MOVIES.

THE MOTHER AND IMPRESARIO PAUSE. THEY LOOK AT EACH OTHER.

SELZNICK: THERE'S SOMETHING HAPPENING

BETWEEN THE TWO OF THEM, THIS LITTLE SPARK.

ASSUCENA: MARIE JUST STOPS AND SEES THE WHOLE FAMILY TOGETHER.

AND SHE IS SO IMMERSED IN SO MUCH LOVE.

WHEELDON: MAYBE THIS GREAT IMPRESARIO, HE BECOMES

THE FATHER THAT MARIE HAS LOST.

JONES: AND YOU PROBABLY SAY TO YOURSELF, "I DON'T THINK SO."

AND THEN YOUR HEAD SORT OF GOES TO,

"BUT SHE AT LEAST HAD THAT ONE MOMENT."

KATZ: SO YOU COULD SAY IT KIND OF BRINGS YOU BACK TO FAMILY,

IT BRINGS YOU BACK TO COMMUNITY, IT BRINGS YOU BACK TO--

AND SHE'S LIVED A LONG JOURNEY, THIS LITTLE GIRL,

TO GET BACK TO "THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME," I GUESS.

[APPLAUSE]

[CHEERING]

WHEATER: ONE PARTICULAR WOMAN WHO I DON'T KNOW CAME TO ME

IN TEARS, AND SAID, "THIS IS ME. I AM A SINGLE MOTHER.

"THIS IS EVERYTHING THAT I AM,

AND THIS IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL MOMENT IN MY CHRISTMAS."

ASSUCENA: MY MIND IS BLOWN EVERY TIME I WATCH IT.

IT'S AMAZING.

THE STORY BEHIND THAT STORY IS VAST; IT'S EPIC.

IT'S ACTUALLY ALMOST MORE INTERESTING

THAN THE FINAL PRODUCTION.

[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]

NARRATOR: "MAKING A NEW AMERICAN NUTCRACKER"

IS MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH THE GENEROSITY

OF THE GRAINGER FOUNDATION OF LAKE FOREST, ILLINOIS.

ANNOUNCER: YOU'RE WATCHING PBS.

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