With only one exception, the home of The Nutcracker in the Quad Cities has been the Capitol Theatre in downtown Davenport. "We love it there," said Joedy Cook, executive director of Ballet Quad Cities, the company that puts on the annual holiday production. And the Capitol has for more than a decade been considered "the ballet company's home."
Yet Ballet Quad Cities this year is moving east on Third Street, with four performances of The Nutcracker at the roomier Adler Theatre. "We felt that we needed to see if it's time for a larger venue," Cook said. While the stage is about the same size, the Adler can hold about twice as many people as the Capitol's 1,200-body capacity. "It's something we need to do. It's been a goal for years."
The decision was essentially made when last year's final performance at the Capitol was packed, exposing some of the limitations of the theatre, such as the inadequacy of the restroom facilities with a full house.
Make no mistake, though: The move has some risks. There are more seats to fill, and ticket prices for adults and senior citizens are significantly higher (by $10 and $8, respectively) to help offset the increased cost for the performance venue. And to that add some uncertainty about whether people have enough confidence in the economy right now to spend money on seeing a show.
But Cook sounds excited. "We're still hopeful it's the right decision," she said.
The story of Clara and her magical nutcracker is a classic, of course, but each year Ballet Quad Cities tries to do a few things differently.
One addition this year is related to the ballet company's continued growth. Ballet Quad Cities added a male and female dancer this year, which means that the quality of the performance should be even better. The addition of Jake Lyon to the company means that Herr Drosselmeyer will be a dancing rather than an acting role. "If you have enough men in the ballet company, what you want to do is dance them," Cook said. And one new female dancer also makes a difference, because the dancers in The Nutcracker are typically cast in multiple roles. "They do a tremendous amount of dancing," she said.
Also new this year are "age appropriate" programs, so that kids can get easy-to-digest information about the history and story of The Nutcracker. The children's program illustrates the story with drawings by local artist Patrick Collins and includes fun facts about the history of The Nutcracker and the production.
In addition, Ballet Quad Cities is offering a new event his year, "Nutcracker Sweets" after Friday night's performance, with desserts and dancers signing autographs. (The event will be in the RiverCenter's Great River Hall at 9:30 p.m., and tickets are $10.)
That function will showcase how the move to the Adler has created a relationship between the ballet company and the Quad City Arts Festival of Trees, being held in the RiverCenter. The Nutcracker Sweets event shows how the two can work together, and Ballet Quad Cities dancers also served as models for the festival fashion show on Monday. Cook said she hopes The Nutcracker and the festival can take advantage of the other's event. "We're hoping it's a really good match," she said.
Performances of The Nutcracker will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with a 7:30 p.m. show on Friday. Tickets are $28.50 for adults and $10 for ages 16 and under. For tickets, call (563)326-1111 or (563)326-8555.