Lee Woodman, Lesley Bandy and Roger Sanders with the ‘set in a box’ that will be used for The Nutcracker. Photo: Kate Russell.

Nutcracker brings innovation and communities together


Nelson’s visual arts and theatre communities are banding together to bring a Christmas classic to the Theatre Royal – with a modern twist.

The Nutcracker runs from December 17 – 19 and is a community extravaganza with more than 100 cast members participating from all over the region.

To keep the set as minimalist as possible – while keeping the magic of the story – local artist Lee Woodman has created a ‘set in a box’ which will be projected onto the back of the stage using a camera.

Complete with a working lift, pulleys and multiple backdrops, the miniature set is a Nelson first.

“There is stuff that is done with projections, but not an entire set,” says Lee, who has always been “intrigued” with miniatures.

“We were thinking about how we could make a big book on stage and I thought ‘I don’t want to build a whole lot of stuff that we have to store’.

“Because The Nutcracker is all about toys and Christmas it works so well – here we have a toy with handles, pulleys and bits and bobs. It fits in with the whole magic theme.”

Lee says the cross-over with the arts and theatre communities has lifted everybody involved.

Faye and Karl Wulff at Community Art Works have also created masks and costumes, while Just Costumes are also lending a hand.

Director Lesley Bandy says the show is a real “community celebration” and she hopes to make it an annual event.

“The Chinese community, Indian dance, Electrix Cheer group, hip hop dancers portraying slick soldier moves, taekwondo proponents helping with the fight against the Rat King – they are all giving of their time, culture, and expertise.

“It’s been a big old thing to wrangle, but it’s been an amazing way of meeting people.”

Professional and student dancers will be showing off their skills with Leonora Voigtlander coming home to Nelson from the Royal New Zealand Ballet to perform.

The show is being produced by Kim Bailey with Laura Jones as assistant choreographer. Gillian Francis and Peta Spooner dance studios are also donating rehearsal space.

In addition to the main event, a free public performance of snippets of the ballet will be presented on December 13 at 8.30pm outside the Theatre Royal.

It will feature artwork by local students projected as a backdrop onto the neighbouring Summit building.

The Nutcracker is on December 17 – 19 at the Theatre Royal. Tickets are available at www.eventfinda.co.nz