Nutcracker Spectacular

By: Lisa Meyer

After eighteen weeks filled with football, TEC 101, Battle of the Bands and many more events, the Westlake Technical Entertainment Crew closed out the fall semester with the 10th annual production of The Nutcracker Spectacular. NCS features music from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker played by the Westlake Symphonic Orchestra, as well as dancers from Westlake's local dance studio, Alisa's Dance Academy. The performance consists of a shortened version of the original ballet topped off with a Trans-Siberian Orchestra-style finale complete with pyrotechnic effects by ProFx. After ten years, this show has become an annual tradition for many families in the Westlake community.
NCS is unique because it is entirely produced by the Technical Entertainment Crew. Because of this, the TEC officers, myself included, spend months leading up to the performance securing sponsorships, hanging posters, and sending out flyers and postcards. While those months were certainly stressful, I felt like I was involved in something important. Something beyond grades and school.
When I was told months later that I was selected to be head of the stage crew for the production, I was ecstatic. It was the first time I had held such an important role in a major production and despite harboring some doubts, I was really excited.
Being on the stage crew is one of the more dangerous positions in a production. NCS is very scenery-intensive with over twenty pieces of scenery, many of which require several people to move. With so much heavy scenery being moved, drops and curtains flying in and out, and the pitch blackness of the scene changes, there is potential for injury. In order for a scene change to be fast and safe, the crew must be efficient, and in order for a crew to be efficient they need good leadership and teamwork.
Over the course of the production, I learned a lot about leadership and about my crew, many of whom had never worked a production. After spending six hours a day after school with them, I got to know each and every one of the twelve members on my crew. Their personalities, their likes and dislikes, which classes they do well (and not so well) in, even which crew members they work best with.
That's probably my favorite part of major productions; getting to meet new members and seeing them open up over the course of the show. It's incredible how much students change after just one week, going from nervous and uncertain to calm and confident. I'm really looking forward to seeing how they grow as crew members over the next few years.
The overall quality of the performance was very high, and may have actually surpassed that of last year, not an easy thing to accomplish. Despite the struggles of having a new orchestra director and an abnormally young crew, everyone from the dancers to the musicians to the crew really stepped up this year and created something truly amazing. NCS has always felt like an opportunity to give back to the community for all of the support they have shown us, so I hope the families that came enjoyed watching the show as much as I enjoyed putting it on.
As NCS wound down with the final performance, I found myself rather sad to see it go. As stressful and time-consuming as it can be, Nutcracker week is still one of my favorite times of the year. It's a great experience and, above everything, it's fun. Having said that, I can't wait to see what events and productions the spring semester will bring.