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2020/21 SEASON |The Harlem Nutcracker (Workshop)

The Harlem Nutcracker (Workshop) | December 11-13, 2020

We pick the story up where we left off at the end of Workshop 1. Clara and her husband have just witnessed the exhilarating floorshow at Club Sweets and a new M.C. appears to introduce one final act.

The Harlem Nutcracker, created by Donald Byrd for Donald Byrd/The Group, premiered in December 1996 at Arizona State University in the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Grammage Memorial Auditorium. It made its NYC premiere later that year at the BAM Opera House. Touring extensively each holiday season from 1996-2002, it gained national recognition, received critical acclaim, and was dubbed as an “instant classic”.

Using Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s “Nutcracker Suite” as a starting off point, arranger/composer/conductor, David Berger, completed the production’s score creating an evening-length composition for Byrd to create his reimagining of the classic tale. The story centers around an African American family in Harlem at Christmas, highlights the unique centrality of the grandmother in African-American culture, the resilience of Black American families, and Harlem as a center of the African Diaspora.

When Spectrum decided to revive The Harlem Nutcracker our strategy was to bring the work back through 3 workshop presentations before the premiere of the revival in 2022. Last year, 2019, was the first workshop. Given the current circumstances, we will not be able to do a live presentation of the workshop as we did at On the Boards in December of 2019. This year we will present Workshop 2 as a film. We pick the story up where we left off Clara and her husband have just witnessed the exhilarating floorshow at Club Sweets and a new M.C. appears to introduce one final act.

Photos by Marcia Davis