Ballet slippers were not made for rabbit’s feet.
But that hasn’t stopped writer, director and choreographer Patti Caplette from combining the classic ballet “The Nutcracker” with popular bunny characters Max and Ruby.
“I’m hoping to deliver a theatrical piece that is entertaining and bonding for families, and to show a classic ballet standard that may light a fire under a few youngsters,” said Caplette about Koba Entertainment’s “Max & Ruby in the Nutcracker Suite.”
“I am taking Tchaikovsky’s music and using the highlights. It is done in a much shorter time frame. I hope it is a prelude for people to go see the full production of ‘Nutcracker’ somewhere.”
“Max & Ruby in the Nutcracker Suite” will be presented on Dec. 6 at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet.
Set to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s classic score, “The Nutcracker” tells the whimsical tale of a magical Christmas Eve journey to a land of swirling snowflakes, sugar plum fairies and waltzing flowers.
The beloved bunny siblings Max and Ruby originated as a book series by Rosemary Wells. Max is a rambunctious three-year-old rabbit, and his big sister, Ruby, is a patient, goal-oriented seven-year-old rabbit. Making their television debut in an animated series in 2002, Max and Ruby’s playful escapades have been enjoyed by children around the world.
“Max & Ruby in the Nutcracker Suite” takes place on Christmas Eve as Ruby trims the tree and Max concentrates on Grandma’s freshly-baked cookies. A parcel from their Great Uncle Drosselmeyer arrives and as the package is unwrapped, Ruby realizes that each new toy is from the story of “The Nutcracker.”
“Grandma reads them the ‘Nutcracker’ story and through the imagination of Max and Ruby we see the Snow Princess, the Nutcracker Prince and the Snow Fairies,” Caplette said. “The ‘Nutcracker’ story is told through the eyes of Max and Ruby.”
The production is enhanced by the direction and choreography of Caplette, who has professionally danced “The Nutcracker” with Canada’s leading dance companies Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal and Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
“Max and Ruby are two people in costume,” said Caplette of the main characters.
But despite their costumed appearance, the two siblings do actually dance.
“Max leads the Chinese dancers into Hip Hop,” Caplette said. “Ruby pretends she is the Sugar Plum Fairy. They are dancing the whole time in the show.”
The show also is educational, according to Caplette.
“At one point Ruby narrates: ‘Look at those pointe shoes. You need to be strong to dance pointe,’” Caplette said. “And she instructs Max on how to say ‘Hello’ and ‘Goodbye’ to a prince and princess.”
Caplette said her goal for the show is simple.
“This is the second season of this show,” she said of the Koba Entertainment production. “We hope it becomes a holiday tradition. And I hope to introduce young people to ballet.”