By Frank O'Donnell, WPRO Contributing writer
How would like to see a fun-filled ballet with eight dancing reindeer? Then you’re in luck, thanks to the Providence Ballet Theatre’s upcoming presentation of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
For PBT’s artistic director, Eva Marie Pacheco, this is the culmination of a 15-year project. “I was asked to create a full-length holiday ballet for Island Moving Company in Newport when I first started this process. This current production is very different than the one I did then. I took my original ideas and put a much more contemporary flair on it.”
There are new characters, a new scene and new music in this multi-dimensional production which does stay true to the source material, Clement Clarke Moore’s classic holiday poem. “We have both ballet and contemporary dancers, a set that is moved by the characters, puppetry, and a narrator that reads the poem in three sections.” Food reporter Bruce Newbury and Tony Estrella, the artistic director from The Gamm Theatre, will split narration duties.
Pacheco has struggled with financing the project. “You can have all the wonderful ideas imaginable but if you don’t have the finances to put it together it can be extremely frustrating. The only positive is that it does make you think deeper and in return hopefully you come up with a less typical way of getting your point across.”
Lack of funds can also spur some creativity. “Not wanting to spend my whole budget on building Santa’s Sleigh, I had to decide how to represent Santa (in this production he is St. Nicholas), his sleigh and his 8 reindeer, I wanted something less typical. My costume designer had a friend from New York City that made puppets so we came up with the idea of building a puppet that a dancer could manipulate that would represent Santa and his Reindeer flying.”
Pacheco choreographs the show and selected all the music. “I use music from Debussy, Messager and Prokofiev.” She’s had a lot of help from others on the lighting and set design as well as the costuming. The show features 13 adults, including Providence Ballet’s core company of eight professional dancers, plus 24 children.
Pacheco’s reward will come when the show goes up. “Working with my amazing dancers and artists, then sitting in the audience and watching my vision come to life.”
“Twas the Night Before Christmas will be presented at the Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts on the Rhode Island College campus December 21 and 22. Tickets can be reserved by calling the RIC Box Office at 401.456.8144 or visiting www.ric.edu/pfa.
Frank O'Donnell | RhodeIslandComedy.com
Frank O'Donnell, a comedian from North Providence, is the Laffmeister at RhodeIslandComedy.com.