Since its first presentation in 1892 at the Maryinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia, THE NUTCRACKER has become the most popular holiday ballet of our times. An adaptation of the 1816 story by E.T.A. Hoffman, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” THE NUTCRACKER has spawned too many performances to count all over the world. With music by a reluctant Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who may never have appreciated the impact which his nutcracker music would have world-wide audiences over the generations, THE NUTCRACKER returns to the Inland Empire in 2018.
Jonathan Sharp, the associate artistic director of the Inland Pacific Ballet Company, was interviewed about the current holiday spectacular. After completing training with some of the ballet greats, he danced professionally with the Boston Ballet and the Pennsylvania Ballet. He was in the original casts of five Broadway shows and has appeared as an actor on television in favorites like “Law and Order.” Currently, he is a faculty member of the Idyllwild Arts Academy, teaches and directs all over Southern California, and is an ABT Certified Teacher for primary to level 7. In addition to his busy schedule, he also dances in THE NUTCRACKER.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PERFORMING AND HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH THE INLAND PACIFIC BALLET COMPANY?
I’ve been in ballet for 38 years, starting in my teens. I also sing, dance, choreograph, act, and write. Twenty-three years ago, I was a guest artist with the Inland Pacific Ballet. When I moved back to Los Angeles from New York twelve years ago, I danced the role of “Dracula” with the company. One thing led to another, and now I’m the associate artistic director.
We’ve been doing THE NUTCRACKER for twenty-four years. This year December 14 is the world premiere of ‘The Nutty Nutcracker.’ It follows the original, but in this version Clara’s Uncle Drosselmeyer comes to the party with Clara’s long-lost Siberian cousin Anya. Drosselmeyer gives each girl an enchanted doll. Clara receives the nutcracker, and Anya gets a dolly pineapple named Waldo. The nutcracker and the pineapple come to life; and, while they travel through the lands of snow and sweets, zany antics occur. It’s really a comedy with some modern music from different artists like the Bee Gee’s, Michael Jackson, and Star Wars inserted into the Tchaikovsky score. I wrote the script and directed the show.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR THE INLAND PACIFIC BALLET AND FOR YOU PERSONALLY?
We plan to produce “The Little Mermaid” in the spring at the same three theaters. On May 18, I will be playing King Arthur in the full-length ballet “Camelot” in Thousand Oaks. I would really like to produce a full-length ballet from scratch, and my other dream is to be on Broadway again. I sing too, and I was the understudy for lots of leads in shows like the “Rocky Horror Show” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD ABOUT THE NUTCRACKER?
I think that THE NUTCRACKER is a great evening in the theater, and you can go for dinner before. It’s a wonderful way to spend the holiday. It’s bright and colorful and sends cheer and joy. It should be part of everyone’s holiday tradition.
THE NUTCRACKER returns to the Inland Empire with performances in three theaters between December 1 and December 23, 2018.
Lewis Family Playhouse, 12505 Cultural Center Drive, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91739
- Saturday, December 1; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, December 2, 2 p.m.; Saturday December 8, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, December 9, 2 p.m.
Fox Performing Arts Center, 3801 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501
- Friday, December 14, 7:30 p.m. (“The Nutty Nutcracker”); Saturday, December 15, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, December 16, 2 p.m.
Bridges Auditorium, Pomona College, 450 North College Way, Claremont, CA 91711
- Friday, December 21, 7:30 p.m. (“The Nutty Nutcracker”); Saturday, December 22, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, December 23, 2 p.m.
Tickets range from $23 to $62 with senior/child/group discounts. “The Nutty Nutcracker” tickets range from $21 to $42. For information and reservations, go online.