This holiday season, UC Santa Cruz presents a performance that puts a twist on a traditional holiday favorite, and gives student performers an opportunity to work with professionals from around the world.
“Mixed Nutz! The Nutcracker ReMixed” will open for the first time on November 20 at UCSC’s Mainstage Theater. Theatrics will include dancing, juggling, acrobatics, an acclaimed a cappella group and more in this collaboration of student and professional performers.
“Words can’t even describe how cool this show is going to be,” said Conor McClure, a second-year UCSC student who performs a waltz in the show.
“Mixed Nutz” features UCSC students, professional performers, local high school students and even local children from the Santa Cruz Gymnastics Center.
Tandy Beal, a UCSC theater arts lecturer and the director of the show, said she was excited for opening night and stressed the importance of the collaboration between amateurs and professionals.
“The best way to learn is working side by side with professionals,” Beal said. “This is an extraordinary opportunity for the students.”
About 30 UCSC students help make up a cast of around 65 to 80 total performers. The show attempts to create community and a learning experience for all individuals involved.
“I love watching the generational development and how one generation informs the next; it’s very deep,” Beal said about the performers from various age groups and talent levels coming together.
The show will present many different types of performers, including the former national gymnastics champion of Brazil. Another woman has come all the way from China to perform.
Though there are many UCSC students with years of experience involved in the performance, a number of the cast are first-time performers.
“This is my first faculty performance and I can really just taste the difference,” said Rose Bloomfield, a fourth-year UCSC student and dancer in the production.
Many students, like Bloomfield, have taken classes from Tandy Beal in previous years.
“It’s amazing working with Tandy, she reworks the show around us and what we give her,” McClure said. “She gives us an idea: we’ll do something and she’ll say, ‘That element of what you just did, let’s play on that.’”
The interactive method of directing that Beal uses leaves space for creativity as well as learning.
Charlie Nelson, a second-year UCSC student, said she was grateful to have the opportunity to work closely with professionals like Beal.
“Their energy comes from such a bright place,” Nelson said. “They are so meticulous, but they are so kind and they know that it takes both. They are so talented.”
“Mixed Nutz” has been performed by many groups outside of Santa Cruz in the past. Some of the professional performers coming to UCSC for this show have been a part of it several times.
“We’ve got costumes that we inherited from another performance, which is why they are absolutely amazing,” McClure said.
The costumes are a collection of colorful, flowing, shimmering fabrics that help to bring this show to life.
“There is one dance in particular that uses these shimmering pink capes that almost end the whole show, and it’s a special moment,” Bloomfield said. “There is acrobatics and waltz and ballet. A lot of joy went into this.”
The joyous show will run every weekend through December 6.
“I’m jealous that I won’t get to see it, it is such a treat for the audience,” Nelson said. “The magic of it is something you would never want to miss.”
Bloomfield expressed her similar excitement about the show.
“It is serious, spectacular holiday fun!”
Tickets to “Mixed Nutz” can be purchased by phone or in person at the UCSC Ticket Office (831) 459-2159, the Santa Cruz Civic box office (831) 420-5260, or online at http://santacruztickets.com.