It Takes a Village to Produce A Nutcracker

Kim Barnes, Head of Early Childhood, reflects on Greenhill’s Kindergarten performance of The Nutcracker.

Ahhhhhhh, The Nutcracker! There is magic and excitement in the air as sixty-four kindergartners move into the theater. The mice are playfully ready. The soldiers have stoic faces (or at least stoic for playful five-year-olds), ready for battle. The Spanish Chocolates have castanets in hand and Cossacks are ready to yell, “Hey!” Chinese Tea dancers take their bows and the top hats on the Candy Flutes sparkle and glitter in every light. Flower Fairies and Sugar Plum Fairies leap and spin their magic on the audience. Everything is in place and in thirty minutes, all of this will be over. But….Greenhill School’s kindergarten version of The Nutcracker is truly a labor of love of many people and takes many hands from “this village” to ensure this production is realized each year.

There are, first of all, the children; the excitement begins with their dance practices in October as they find out what part he/she will perform. Mrs. Bossalini, early childhood music educator, has centers ready for practices as she works with each group individually – nutcracker music ready on IShuffles, blocks for building, keyboards on which children can practice songs from earphones, drawing paper and markers (“Look, Mrs. Barnes, I can draw a nutcracker.”). Classroom teachers support the excitement as children produce symmetric nutcrackers from pattern blocks and then dissect the creation to note how many of each block was needed to create his/her beloved soldier. In class, individual books are created – what is your character, what does your costume look like, what have you liked best about The Nutcracker? Teaching fellows prepare to hand out props and draw the curtains during practices and performances. In art, Mrs. Swize began with shapes and ended with detailed colorful paper nutcrackers ready for printing and placement on the programs. Mrs. Wilson’s (Communications and Public Relations Associate) patience prevails as she ensures she has a photo of each child and each group. Mr. Monaco, Web and Media Services Manager, is ready with download directions for the kindergarten families as they eagerly await an opportunity to view the performance they just witnessed.

Julie Kronick, The Nutcracker Parent Coordinator, has been working with Mrs. Bossalini since April checking costumes and looking at the set. She’s detail-oriented and each piece of this production has been well-organized for all volunteers to understand and execute smoothly. Krista Weinstein is there as well as Pre-k Nutcracker Parent Liaison for Nutcraker Coordinator will be her job next year. Kindergarten parents have volunteered to help with costume try-ons, creating an assembly line for the programs, organizing and setting up the set, and take down and cleaning. Pre-kindergarten parents were ready each morning before dress rehearsal and performances to help children dress, apply and reapply make-up, and then reverse everything after the performance. A broken slipper finds itself in the bag of a pre-k parent who makes a quick repair after dress rehearsal and has it ready that same afternoon. Middle school moms like Nancy Brickman and Amy Roseman are always willing to come down and lend a hand with makeup and dressing and a bit of reminiscing.

With Mr. Paraskevas at the helm, the Upper School orchestra is tuning and the music is beautiful. This time the music and instruments are so intriguing they mesmerize and capture the attention of a flower fairy as she performs her steps and movements, never missing a step but head always turned towards the orchestra. Mr. Griggs leads the audience through the magic of each dance and a bit of history of Greenhill School’s performance of this beloved story as the work of the village is almost complete with the utterance of “Ahhhhh, The Nutcracker.”

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