Point of View: Thank you, ‘Nutcracker’, for the light you bring to dark times

The Homer “Nutcracker,” built upon the foundation of so much good

By Libby Bushell

For the Homer News

The battle scene was always my favorite. I remember the first year that rats rappelled from the catwalk, back in the ‘90s. How exciting it was for the audience to see those beasts come careening down from the ceiling, for us wee soldiers who got to fight the big kids with our stick guns and tumble amidst pyrotechnics. This year, there was still those stick and sword battles, but the dance itself was transformed. The battle scene began as a “Stomp”-like drum line. It was a battle cry to turn bloodshed into something better by giving center stage to a song instead of a fight. And there were rappelling rats, once again.

This year, Uncle Drosselmeyer’s ribbon wove a spell upon the audience. The unicycle and the aerial silks, the prince’s pants, the Spanish hips, Ken’s shooting star, the reindeer and the lambs’ tails, the alums and Mother Ginger’s skirts that wrapped the whole production into a story, finally. The party scene took on a new dimension when a trapeze swung out over the audience so that we didn’t just watch the “Nutcracker” of 2022, we felt it.

I felt the grace of the ballerinas in their point shoes, who were clearly trained by the best, and showcased that training in their solos, in the pas de trois, in the waltz of the flowers, in the snow scene, which has always been the most magical dance of the Homer Nutcracker.

I remember hole-punching plastic Proctor’s bags to make snow with the other mice, on my down time, during tech week, or Hell Week as we called it, because it was so hard, because the work that went into putting on a production of that scale was so much for so many that it felt like hell that week. Thirty-three years the dancers and the thespians and the tech crews of Homer have been doing that good, hard work to make this magic happen.

And it is magic. For in the dark of a December that’s more often rainy than not now, those stage snowflakes falling from the rafters, spotlighted into tiny crystals transforms the production into a dream and the audience into believers.

I’ve talked to a few people who have seen the this year’s “Nutcracker” and every one of them has told me that they too, cried. For it is a rare magic to be a part of such transformative beauty in the depth of winter on the southern Kenai Peninsula.

The Homer “Nutcracker,” built upon the foundation of so much good, hard work in the years leading up to this one, is better than it has ever been. It is evolving. We are evolving, which is to say that I believe we, as the audience, as a community, as humanity, are getting better. That our world, despite deep divisions and changes in leadership, goes through hell to get better and better and better. For we show up and we do good, hard work, and we work together to make the world better.

So thank you Sally, thank you Breezy, thank you Jill, thank you dancers and choreographers, stage managers and the tech crew and volunteers, for the beauty that you give us in the dark times, for the hope you give to the people of this cosmic hamlet. Thank you.