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The Littlest 'Nutcracker'

Posted: December 17, 2012 1:15 p.m.
Updated: December 17, 2012 1:15 p.m.

Editor's Note: Photos related to this story have been removed from The Signal's website. Some parents of children in the photos said posting the photos made them uncomfortable in light of the incident last Friday at a school in Connecticut. The Signal had been granted full authorization by school officials to take and publish the photos but we decided to honor the parents' requests.


The epic battle between the mouse soldiers and the toy soldiers comes to life today and Tuesday when the 32 students in Susan Gibbs’ second-grade class at Helmers Elementary perform the holiday classic “The Nutcracker” on stage.

Directed by parent volunteer Chrissa Rabe, this unique version of the classic tale features singing candy cane kids, dancing snowflakes and animals as well as the familiar “Nutcracker” characters set in two acts.

Various versions of “The Nutcracker” exist based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.” “The Nutcracker Ballet” features a score written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

Rabe, a former teacher at the school, previously staged this version of “The Nutcracker” when she was still teaching there.

“I stopped teaching to have babies, and now my baby is in second grade so I had to come back to do the show,” she said.

Helmers’ “The Nutcracker” is an original musical with lyrics added to the familiar strains of Tchaikovsky’s score and other songs.

Rabe found the play when she was a student in Avon, Mont. She directed a Christmas pageant at a four-room schoolhouse, which had a tradition of doing this version of “The Nutcracker.”

“When I was hired to teach in California I brought the play with me,” Rabe said.

Sean Rabe, 7, plays one of the toy soldiers in the production and a candy cane kid.
“I sing on stage,” he said.

Sean said his favorite part of the play is the battle between the toy soldiers and the mice.

“It’s fun,” he said.

The production features elaborate costumes dreamed up by coordinators Michelle Spier, Felicia Marquez, Missi Hickam and Elie Jetter.

Alexis Kuncar, 7, plays the Nutcracker in the production.
“I get to be on stage most of the time,” she said.

Helmers Principal Diane Miscione said it will be the first time the production has been performed during her four years as principal.

“We’re excited to bring it back,” she said. “Chrissa Rabe has worked diligently with the children and they are so excited about it.”

Charlie Duncan, 7, who dances the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy, said she likes performing on stage.

“(The Sugar Plum Fairy) is one of the main characters,” she said.

Students have rehearsed the show for two months, said Gibbs.

“The students are really enjoying the whole process of dressing up and acting and singing and dancing,” said Gibbs. “I’m really proud of them.”

For more information on the production today and Tuesday, call Charles Helmers Elementary School at 661-286-4399.




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