Sugar Hill: The Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker

Jordanna Brody
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September 19, 2023 3:15 PM

Sugar Hill: The Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker, the jazz-steeped reimagining of The Nutcracker based on the genre-defying collaboration of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, will debut at New York City Center November 14 through November 26, and in Chicago at Auditorium Theatre from December 19 through December 30. Sugar Hill is set to the timeless music of Ellington and Strayhorn and features a libretto and concept by Jessica Swan.

This original production is directed by Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Award nominee Joshua Bergasse, with choreography by Jade Hale-Christofi. The show features a world-renowned creative team of dance superstars, with additional choreography by Caleb Teicher and Emmy Award nominee Jon Boogz, and dance consultation from Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement recipient, Graciela Daniele, Orchestrations and Arrangements are by Grammy Award-winner John Clayton and three-time Tony Award nominee Larry Blank. Casting by Mungioli Theatricals, Inc.

An exhilarating story told in dance, Sugar Hill is set to the music of the genre-defying collaboration between jazz icons bandleader/composer Duke Ellington and composer, Billy Strayhorn, in a captivating way that has never been done before.

In its world premiere, Sugar Hill reveals the glamour of the 1930s as seen through the lens of the nonconformist daughter of a high-society Black family in Manhattan and her own fantastic dreamworld in the Sugar Hill neighborhood of Harlem. A jazz-steeped reimagining of the classic tale, this Nutcracker dance-story sends a stirring message that champions individuality and the journey to find the power of your unique self: “Go find what makes you different to find your magic”.

In a shared statement, A. Alyce Claerbaut, Sugar Hill  Executive Producer and niece of Billy Strayhorn, along with Mercedes Ellington, director, choreographer, producer, and familial historian, as well as granddaughter of Duke Ellington, said, “Consummate master of self-expression Duke Ellington and classically-trained, jazz genius Billy Strayhorn, took something wholly European, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, and transformed it into a story that symbolizes the American ideal — the freedom of individualism — by marrying it to jazz. There is no finer visual representation of this than through dance.

The SUGAR HILL creative team includes Joshua Zangen (Scenic Designer), Linda Cho (Costume Design), David Finn (Lighting Design), Austin Switser and Switser + Knight (Projection Design) , John Shivers (Sound Design) and Tripp Phillips (Production Stage Manager).

Casting news will be announced in the coming weeks.

For more information, click here.

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Jordanna Brody

Originally from South Florida, Jordanna Brody graduated from Emerson College with a BFA in Theatre Education and Performance in 2019. Her experience teaching, performing, directing, and working behind the scenes informs her perspective on theatre in every way. She is passionate about uplifting marginalized voices and innovative theatrical experiences.

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