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Le Casse-Noisette (The Nutcracker) - Roger LaVoie Scenic Designs
Roger LaVoie Designs

Le Casse-Noisette (The "Nutcracker", by Tchaikovsky)

This production, done in Europe at Ballet Du Nord in Roubaix France, by the choreographer Jean-Paul Comelin, was performed in May and treated not as a Christmas event but as a non-seasonal ballet.

It was a two year project from conception to opening night. Mr. Comelin relied heavily on the original E.T.A Hoffman stories and his fascination with dolls. He also, in his original concept, wished the story to travel to many locations like in a Disney movie.

This was a completely original and unconventional production, where the waltz of the flowers was positioned in the middle of the production and ended with Snow. Two full stage painted scrims were used, one depicting Herr Drosselmeyer's fascination with gears, clocks, and applying those elements of movement to dolls, and another depicting the empty bed of Princess Perlipat, the daughter of King Rat, who was eventually transformed from ugliness to beauty by Drosselmeyer's nephew who cracked the nut.

Below are a few conceptual drawings:

Rendering of the storybook scenic piece for The Nutcracker

Rendering of the house scenic piece for The Nutcracker

Rendering of Drosselmeyer's workshop scenic piece for The Nutcracker

Rendering of the dollhouse scenic piece for The Nutcracker

The production opened with a dancer putting on his makeup and dressing as Herr Drosselmeyer with Pierrot and Columbine as his assistants. He then commanded a large book to be brought in, and as the pages turned it finally revealed a large Vitrine. You can see in the following stage images how the draperies and architecture translated into the final design. The Act I party scene opened with the dancers inside the Vitrine and with full head doll masks depicting their characters.

Full stage Vitrine measuring 13.04 meters across, 9.5 meters high, and 2.7 meters deep, made of aluminum and steel trusses with painted and applied dimensional ornamentation.

Full stage Waltz of the Flowers painted scrim depicting the bed of Princess Perlipat, for The Nutcracker

Full stage Waltz of the Flowers painted scrim depicting the bed of Princess Perlipat.

Full stage painted scrim depicting the eccentric fascination that Herr Drosselmeyer had with clocks, for The Nutcracker

Full stage painted scrim depicting the eccentric fascination that Herr Drosselmeyer had with clocks

A Christmas tree decorated with doll's heads, for The Nutcracker

A Christmas tree decorated with doll's heads.