Sugar Plum Festival kicks off with sold out show

Sugarcoated, a Nutcracker production with feminist twist

It’s a new take on an old holiday classic.

The Arts Station is kicking off their holiday programming with a theatre production from the Heart and Soul Dance and Theatre Collective.

The play, called Sugarcoated, is a take on Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.

The play has all of the classic characters and music from the traditional Christmas production, but with a twist.

“This is a feminist version of the nutcracker,” said Alana Rybar, director of the production. “Everything we put on stage has to have meaning.”

She says the mandate of the theatre company, which has been running almost a year, is to perform thoughtful productions that tackle important themes.

In Sugarcoated, Clara, the main character is faced with the choice of marrying a man that will give her an easy road, complete with all the trappings of a material life.

The plot follows the themes of bravery, loyalty and friendship.

“We challenged the traditional female roles,” said Rybar. “This is kind of the dark back story of The Nutcracker.”

The script was written with both younger and older audiences in mind, so that the performance is like Shrek, where parents will find jokes and enjoyable parts as well.

“We wanted it to be for families,” said Rybar.

She says that working with young women, it’s especially important to write strong female characters, who are inspired by her actors personalities.

Through the play, the girls on stage will even get to inspire the younger girls in the audience.

“It’s also very uplifting and inspiring,” said Rybar, explaining that while the performance deals with more intense themes, it still brings the magic of Christmas. “There’s so much of this magic that takes place.”

Tickets for the show sold out quickly, with seats for the Sunday matinee gone in under two weeks.

“Which is incredible for Fernie,” said Rybar. “We were very touched. It’s nice to have that enthusiasm.”

The Sugar Plum Festival continues the following weekend with Tutus and Tales, another Nutcracker themed event, geared for children ages four to 10. The session starts off with a dance class as well as a craft activity, followed by a small production to be put on by all the participants for the parents in the audience.

On December 16 the Tunnel Theatre will be presenting A Fernie Holiday Story; an improv style performance recounting some favourite stories from Fernie during the holiday season.

“What’s people’s favourite memories of Fernie?” asked Louise Hilliard, administrator at The Arts Station, and an organizer of the series of holiday events.

Next up is the screening of The Nutcracker performance from the Royal Oprah House in London. The recorded production will be screened at the Vogue Theatre on December 17 at 5:00 p.m. Dancers from the Heart and Soul Theatre and Dance collective will be decked out in ballet attire and guests are encouraged to dress up.

“We really try to make the festival welcoming to everyone,” said Hilliard, noting that the festivities will celebrate the holiday season in its entirety, and looks to bring together the entire community.

To finish off the series, The Arts Station will be organizing a children’s lantern making workshop on December 22, followed by Christmas caroling. There will be hot chocolate and burn barrels outside to keep everyone toasty warm and full of holiday cheer.

For more information about the Sugar Plum Festival visit Theartsstation.com

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