Highly Recommended Dance: SUGAR HILL: THE ELLINGTON/ STRAYHORN NUTCRACKER (Auditorium Theatre)

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by Nia Liat on December 18, 2023

in Dance,Theater-Chicago

An exhilarating story told in dance and live performance by a seventeen-piece jazz orchestra, SUGAR HILL is set to the music of the genre-defying collaboration between jazz icons bandleader/composer Duke Ellington and composer, Billy Strayhorn, in a captivating way that has never been done before.

Nikolas Gaifullin, Alicia Mae Holloway, Josue Gomez

In its world premiere, SUGAR HILL reveals the glamour of the 1930s as seen through the lens of the nonconformist daughter of a high-society Black family in Manhattan and her own fantastic dreamworld in the Sugar Hill neighborhood of Harlem. A jazz-steeped reimagining of the classic tale, this Nutcracker dance-story sends a stirring message that champions individuality and the journey to find the power of your unique self: “Go find what makes you different to find your magic.”

Josue Gomez

SUGAR HILL: The Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker, a holiday dream told in dance, from Tony Award®- winning producers David Garfinkle and Dr. Ron Simons, will make its world-premiere at the Auditorium Theatre (50 E. Ida B. Wells) this Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023, running through Dec. 30. For tickets, visit Auditorium Theatre. For more info, visit Sugar Hill Nutcracker.

The production stars Jinhao Zhang and Josué Gomez as the Nutcracker Musician, Alicia Mae Holloway as Lena, Shavey Brown as Sweet Pea, Jennifer Jade Ledesna as The Angel, Kenneth Darryl Ard as Uncle Dross, and Brenda Braxton as Mother Sugar/Mama Stall. Additional cast includes Nikolas Danilovich-Eugene Gaifullin, Larissa Gerszke, Nayara Lopes, Natascha Mair, Tatiana Nuñez and Scott Weber. Audrey Borst, Joshua Dawson, Nathan Fister, Gabriella Hamilton, Johnathon Darcelle Hart, Ayaka Kamei, Laura Katherine Kaufman, Muata Ayodele Langley, James Luc, Chase Maxwell, Charlotte McKinley, Dario Natarelli, Megan Prout, Jocelyn Iris Raykumar, Ange ‘Gregg’ Sainvilus, Tyler D. Singletary, Olivia Tang-Mifsud and Matt Wiercinski.

Brenda Braxton

As previously announced, this original production, featuring a libretto and concept by Jessica Swan, is directed and choreographed by Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Award nominee and Emmy Award-winner Joshua Bergasse, with co-choreography by Jade Hale-Christofi. The show features a world-renowned creative team of dance superstars, with additional choreography by Caleb Teicher and two-time Emmy Award nominee Jon Boogz, and dance consultation from Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement recipient, Graciela Daniele, Orchestrations and Arrangements are by Grammy Award®-winner John Clayton and three-time Tony Award® nominee Larry Blank and Paul Masse (Dance Arranger). Josh Zangen (Scenic Designer), David Kaley (Costume Supervisor and Additional Costume Designs), Christopher Annas-Lee (Lighting Designer) and Joshua D. Reid (Sound Designer) complete the creative team.

Nikolas Gaifullin, Alicia Mae Holloway, Josue Gomez
Alicia Mae Holloway

photos by Jonathan Taylor

About The Auditorium Theatre

The Auditorium Theatre, located at 50 E. Ida B. Wells Drive at Roosevelt University in Chicago, is an Illinois not-for-profit organization committed to presenting the finest in international, cultural, community, and educational programming to all of Chicago and beyond as The Theatre for the People. The organization also is committed to the continued restoration and preservation of this National Historic Landmark that originally opened in 1889. For more information, visit Auditorium Theatre.

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