A North Woods Nutcracker

Artistic Direction: Annmarie Carlson Drake

Additional choreography: Sam Budzinski

Set design: Randy Dinsmore

Production Manager: Becky Dimock

Prologue

New Ulm MN 1921/Cincinnati 1855/ St. Paul 1921

 

Kurt Drosselmeier            Mitch Moellenhoff

William Pfaender              Cyrus  Brave Heart

Young  Kurt                        Matthew Moellenhoff

Immigrants         Montian Natrakul, Peter Snyder

                                   Jaydan Youngblom, Ian Williams

Frank Hubbard                  Colleen Jacks

Marie Hubbard Richter     Sasha Jakovich

Kate Hubbard Richter       Juliet Langsjoen

F Scott Fitzgerald              Peter Snyder (Sat) 

                                          Montian Natrakul (Sun)                     

Zelda Fitzgerald                 Katie Dimock (Sat)

                                             Mia Williams (Sun)

 

Act One

Scene I: Mankato Minnesota 1921

Frank, Marie, Kate, the Fitzgeralds

 

Maids                          Maya Bartell, Nikyta Youngblom

Marie’s Friends         Elizabeth Dimock, Phoebe Bjork,

                              Jaydan Youngblom, Marco Jakovich

Young children           Azella Garcia, Andree Jakovich,

                                    Mattaeus Natrakul

Jay Hubbard              Montian Natrakul (Sat),

                                    Peter Snyder (Sun)

RD Hubbard               Matthew Moellenhoff

Minnie Hubbard        Mia Williams (Sat),

                                    Katie Dimock (Sun)

Anna Pavlova            Lauren Cahalan

Victor Dandré           Cyrus Brave Heart

Maud Lovelace         Katie Cink

Delos Lovelace         Ian Williams

Lizzie Brett                Katie Edwards

Bick                            Victoria Thormodson

Midge                         Jade Moellenhoff

Florence MacBeth    Michelle Sedivy

Syrian girls                April Holmberg, Melissa Heim

 

“Betsy and Tacy meet Tib”

Betsy                                      Azella Garcia

Tacy                                       Lolo Nelson

Tib                                          Isabelle Brand

Katie                                       Helen Torbenson

Julia                                        Elizabeth Dimock 

Scene II: Sledding down Main Street Hill

Marie

Katie Cink, Melissa Heim, Jade Moellenhoff, Victoria Thormodson,Cyrus Brave Heart, Marco Jakovich,

Jaydan Youngblom, Ian Williams

Prologue: Kurt Drosselmeier is carving a gift for his grandniece, Marie. As he works, he remembers the 1855 anti-immigrant riots in Cincinnati where his father was killed, and how he was taken in by the kind William who brought him to Hew Ulm and instilled in him his Turner values of freedom, honest work and healthy living. Finishing, Kurt holds up the nutcracker and realizes he has carved it in William's image.

Frank Hubbard has taken advantage of an unusually warm December to visit her granddaughters in St. Paul. Marie and Kate  had a wonderful time: shopping at Dayton's Department Store, going to the ballet, visiting  Como Park Conservatory, then the  train to Mankato to stay overnight at Grandmother's for her Christmas party.

Act I: At the Hubbard home, Leona waits impatiently for her fellow maid Mae. Late again and there is so much to do! The guests arrive: Uncle Jay with his son Rensselaaer Dean, Uncle Drosselmeier bringing presents for Marie and Kate, Jay's ex-wife Aunt Minnie, grandfather's former business partner Mr. George Palmer, and Mr. and Mrs. Delos Lovelace from New York City. His wife, Maud, grew up in Mankato.  Here are her childhood friends, Midge and Bick.  We are to surprise Maud with this reunion later. Mr. and Mrs. F. Scott Fitzgerald arrive from St. Paul. Everyone is reading his new book, "This Side of Paradise".  Last to arrive are the opera diva Florence MacBeth and the great Russian ballerina, Madame Anna Pavlova with her husband, Victor Dandré.

 The guest mingle, cocktails are served. Couples dance a one-step and a tango, the youth a polka. "Mocol's delivers!" Mr. Mocol from the market     has sent delicious Lebanese sweets. The delivery ladies dance and all join in. Florence MacBeth regales all with an operatic aria, then Mr. Palmer requests a patriotic song, Tipperary. Soon he and Kurt are arguing about the war. "Enough", says Marie, "Here's to life and....the Charleston!" Next a waltz, but Marie does not find a partner. She remembers her gift, opens it, and is dismayed to find a very strange, almost ugly little fellow- the Nutcracker. She mimics a marching German to her friends. Marie looks again at the gift and sees......she doesn't quite realize what.  The boys aim with their rifles, pop! A dead German! The Nutcracker drops from Marie's arms. Grandmother runs to Marie offering comfort while the boys are soundly scolded. But look! It is beginning to snow, the first time this winter. The youth beg to go sledding, Kate though is too little. As the adults toast the Christmas season, Kate sneaks past, "Wait for me!" 

Main Street Hill: Main Street is slick and the snow is gathering. The boys race each other down the hill and the girls slide like skaters on the ice. Marie boasts that she can sled all the way across the river.  One, two, three, all push! Where is Marie? All frantically search, but she cannot be found.

~~ 10 Minute Intermission~~

Act Two

Scene 1: The North Woods

Marie                               Sasha Jakovich

Nutcracker Prince         Cyrus Brave Heart

 Coyotes              Phoebe Bjork, Elizabeth Dimock,

                             Aleah Jordan,Juliet  Langsjoen, 

                       Sibella Swanson, Mattaeus Natrakul,

                       Matthew Moellenhoff

 American Soldiers Montian Natrakul, Ian Williams

 German Soldier        Peter Snyder

 Aviator                      Jaydan Youngblom             

 Red Cross Nurse     Katie Cink

 Cougars      Jade Moellenhoff, VictoriaThormodson

 

Scene 2:  St. Paul Ice Palace of 1896

Marie, Nutcracker Prince

Royal Couple        Lauren Cahalan, Peter Snyder

Falling Snow        Katie Cink, Katie Dimock,

                              Melissa Heim, Jade Moellenhoff,

                          Victoria Thormodson, Mia Williams

Act II: The North Woods. Marie awakens, trapped on an ice floe. Hungry coyotes howl, then appear, nearer and nearer. A pine forest grows and in their midst a handsome young man who looks vaguely familiar. He comes forwards and the river is transformed into a forest clearing. Troops are summoned, German and American to protect Marie. With the help of an aviator and Red Cross nurse, who attends wounds on all sides, the coyotes flee and the cougars slink off into the woods. The soldiers turn again on each other, but upon hearing the strains of "Silent Night" realize it is a time of peace, not war, and fade into the background.

St. Paul Ice Palace of 1896.  Marie is presented to the King and Queen of the Winter Carnival. They dance with Marie and her prince and snow falls lightly

~~ 10 Minute Intermission~~

I

Act Three

Following the River

Marie

Wrens            Phoebe Bjork,  Elizabeth Dimock,                               Azella Garcia, Andree Jakovich, 

                      Aleah Jordan, Juliet Langsjoen,                                  Sibella Swanson

Voyageurs    Marco Jakovich, Jaydan Youngblom

 

Swede Hollow

Phoebe Bjork, Elizabeth Dimock, April Holmberg, Nikyta Youngblom

 

"From the Falls he named her, Minnehaha"

Mia Williams (Sat), Katie Dimock (Sun),

Ian Williams

 

New Ulm Turners

Montian Natrakul, Mitch Moellenhoff, Peter Snyder, Marco Jakovich

 

Union Depot St. Paul 1917

Lauren Cahalan, Cyrus Brave Heart

 

Welsh Singers of Cambria

Katie Cink, Melissa Heim, Jade Moellenhoff,

Victoria Thormodson

 

Lumberjacks of the Headwaters

Cyrus Brave Heart, Montian Natrakul,

Peter Snyder,

Maya Bartell, Nikyta Youngblom

 

Como Park Conservatory

American Beauty Rose       Lauren Cahalan

Butterfly                Ian William

Dragonfly              Cyrus Brave Heart

Bouquet          Katie Cink, Jade Moellenhof,

                        Victoria  Thormodson

                    Mia Williams (Sat), Katie Dimock (Sun)

Lilacs              Phoebe Bjork,  Elizabeth Dimock,  

                        Andree Jakovich,  Aleah Jordan,

                        Juliet Langsjoen, Sibella Swanson

                                                               

Grand Pas de Deux: A Dream Realized

Sat.:Katie Dimock, Peter Snyder

Sun.:Mia Williams, Montian Natrakul

Starlit Night on the River

Sasha Jakovich, Marco Jakovich,

Jaydan Youngblom

 

Act III: Marie's Journey. Marie drifts off in sleep. She awakens, cold and alone, on the ice. A single bird appears, then multitudes flying overhead. Two Voyageurs appear in a canoe. In dream, Marie follows the river through the forest, each vision more fantastic than the last, arriving finally at the Conservatory in St. Paul, and it is warm! The flowers come alive with Mme. Pavlova dancing as the American Beauty Rose. Madame takes Zelda aside, "You are the ballerina now."  Zelda's long lost dreams are realized as she dances the Grand Pas de Deux.

 

Marie! Marie! Marie! By torchlight, the party guests search for the lost child. She is found, pulled from the ice and all gather to celebrate Christmas Eve.

A Heartfelt thank-you

to all the Parent and Community Volunteers without whom this production would not have  been possible.

 

A Director’s Note

 

I chose 1921 as the setting for "A North Woods Nutcracker" as F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald were living in St. Paul that year and I thought they would make fabulous party guests. Maud Hart Lovelace and her husband Delos had been living in N.Y.C. and Maud probably would have enjoyed a reunion with her childhood friends Frances and Marjorie, who became Tacy and Tib many years later in her novels. Marie is based on Rosemary Hubbard Richter and Kate on Katherine, her sister, two of the four children of Frank Hubbard's daughter Mary Esther. Their ages have been changed from 5 and 4, to 12 and 8. Frank's stepson Jay and Jay’s son Renselaar Dean are factual as is the maid Mae Johnson. I stumbled across some old sheet music signed and dated by her, 1918-1920. She was a shop girl, but it is not unrealistic that she might have supplemented her income as a as a party maid. The great Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, toured extensively around the world with her company:  South America, even Australia. In 1920 she had a North American tour. Though I could not find a tour itinerary, it is indeed possible that they performed in this area. Mankato born Florence MacBeth had a successful opera career in Europe and with the Chicago Opera. Kurt Drosselmeier is fictional, although his 'adopted" father, William Pfaender was one of the founders of New Ulm. America was still recovering from the effects of WWI and it is likely that some of the partygoers would have felt antagonistic to Kurt as a German. The dances in the Party scene are based on popular dances of the time. In the late 1910's, the Castle Walk and Tango, as well as animal dances such as "the Grizzly Bear' were popular. You can even see a clip of that on You-Tube from  in a segment of Downton Abby. The battle scene in Act II refers to the Christmas Eve Truce of 1914, portrayed in the Minnesota Opera's "Silent Night" (2013). The Aviator and Nurse are references to Ernest Hemingway's novels. The Hemingways and Fitzgeralds were in the same circle of American ex-patriots in late 1920's Paris. For the Grand Pas de Deux, I found a Sugar Plum in Zelda Fitzgerald. She had danced as a teenager and in her late 20's became obsessed with becoming a professional ballet dancer, partly as a reaction to Scott's literary successes. They were in Paris at the time and Zelda trained obsessively, perhaps a symptom of her later mental breakdowns. It seemed natural that Zelda should finally realize her dream. As a final note, Drosselmeier carves the Nutcracker into more than William's image. It is William's Turner beliefs of personal freedom, honest work and healthy living that he passes onto Marie.

"Lebe Wohl, Marie!" Have a long and productive life.

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