HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – A rendition of the holiday favorite “The Nutcracker” is giving audience members the chance to immerse themselves in Kansas history while enjoying a show.
“It’s our gift to Kansas,” said Prairie Nutcracker Director Betsie Andrews.
The Prairie Nutcracker celebrates the hardworking roots of America’s pioneers. Set in the Sunflower State in the 19th century, the ballet tells the story of a young girl and her family moving to Kansas from Boston.
“We picked a year, 1869, and that was when you had joy in work. We have laundry. We have collecting wood and various facets of prairie life,” Andrews explained.
The costuming, the story and the set are authentic to 1869 Kansas based off of the information given to Andrews and her colleagues from Fort Hays in Hays, Kansas.
“It’s our history and you get to learn so much. It’s like a ballet version of a history lesson and it’s so fun to be a part of and watch,” said performer Lucy Rose Miller.
Miller, 12, plays Laura, the young girl, traveling with her family to Kansas.
“My older sister joined ballet a while ago and she got to be little Laura six years ago. Ever since I saw her play it, it was like my dream to be little Laura,” Miller said.
Miller plays alongside Laura Mourne, who portrays Laura’s mother in the ballet.
“I love to watch the girls grow up and the young men grow up into different parts,” said Laura Mourn.
Mourn has been a part of the Prairie Nutcracker cast since it debuted in Hutchinson in 2000.
“It’s always magical, no matter how many times you do it,” Mourn said. “Always a family feel, I think that is one thing that makes it very special is the family feel within the cast and then inviting the audience to become part of that family through the performance.”
In the Prairie Nutcracker, a frontier soldier replaces the Nutcracker. A prairie doll is used instead of a sugar plum fairy and the story is set on the prairie rather than in Germany.
“The audience will have gone through laughter, tears, joy and they take that. That’s our present to them,” Andrews said.
Andrews hopes each audience member leaves the show feeling proud to call Kansas home.
The Prairie Nutcracker runs from December 13-15 at the Hutchinson Fox Theater.