Nashvillians know that once we enter into the month of December, two things are just a given: Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood illuminates the holiday spirit, and Nashville’s Nutcracker is performed by Nashville Ballet at TPAC all month. It’s no surprise, however, that this December, those traditions may look slightly different, but in this case, it’s not different bad, it’s different in a new, creative and collaborative way!
Before we get into the details of these two new and exciting holiday experiences and why it means so much to have these opportunities this year, we want to first acknowledge the people who are making them happen. From sponsoring the events to coordinating schedules to organizing details to simply supporting the efforts, each of the below individuals has played a crucial role in bringing a bit of magic to Music City in a year when we need it more than ever!
Without further ado, raise a toast to Lisa French, Executive Director of Nashville Ballet; Jane MacLeod, President & CEO of Cheekwood Estate & Gardens; Chelsea Peterson, Vice President, Director of Client and Community Relations – Tennessee at PNC Bank, and her husband Kent; Jim Todd, a Nashville Ballet Advisory Board Member and attorney at Hagan & Todd; Bonney Todd, a community volunteer; Neil Krugman, Nashville Ballet Board of Directors Secretary and Partner at Waller Law; and Lee Pratt, a community volunteer.
Now, let’s get to the details of these two spectacular, first-of-their-kind experiences taking place this month …
The New Nashville’s Nutcracker
This year, rather than Nashville’s Nutcracker taking up residence at Jackson Hall, it’s taking to the airwaves. On Friday, December 18, tune into NewsChannel 5 at 7 p.m. to watch the first-ever televised performance of Nashville’s Nutcracker. “While it was a heartbreaking decision to cancel our TPAC performances, we are thrilled to safely present Nashville’s Nutcracker to such a large audience this holiday season,” says Lisa French, Executive Director of Nashville Ballet.
The televised performance will open with an introduction and narration by former Tennessee Titan and local favorite Eddie George, and viewers will also get a special behind-the-scenes look at what it took to pull off this sort of artistic endeavor, which was actually filmed in early October at a 12,000-square-foot facility that was specially constructed for the performance — complete with medical advisor oversight, daily rapid COVID tests, temperature checks, a special air filtration system and more. “The holiday season just isn’t complete without Nashville’s Nutcracker,” adds Lyn Plantinga, Vice President and General Manager at NewsChannel 5. “Nashville’s Nutcracker puts a special spin on the classic tale by incorporating our city’s iconic landmarks, characters, and history. Our partnership with Nashville Ballet allows us to bring this experience into our viewers’ living rooms for the first time. It’s a special holiday gift for our community as we all navigate a new way to celebrate this season.”
Lisa adds, “In the midst of everything going on in the world, we hope that both regular Nutcracker attendees and people seeing it for the very first time will be able to find comfort in experiencing this magical holiday tradition at home.”
The Nutcracker Marche in the Mansion
Thankfully we don’t have to wait until December 18 to enjoy this special performance. In fact, everyone is invited to embrace the magic of Christmas at Cheekwood in the days leading up to it. A new feature of Cheekwood’s beloved annual Holiday LIGHTS experience, The Nutcracker Marche in the Mansion invites guests to explore the classic holiday story by way of vignettes located throughout Cheekwood Mansion’s period rooms. “Bringing attention to Nashville Ballet’s Nutcracker performance, which like Cheekwood’s Holiday LIGHTS, has become a seasonal tradition for so many, is a means to bring joy and wonder to our community during these challenging times,” explains Jane MacLeod, President & CEO of Cheekwood Estate & Gardens.
Interestingly, this particular collaboration has been in the works long before the pandemic. In fact, Jane says it’s been years in the making. “Our hope was to display the costumes and an exhibition of traditional nutcrackers in the historic mansion, but we struggled with how to do so as most of the costumes were being worn on a weekly basis during the performance season,” she says. “However, when due to the pandemic, the Ballet moved to a virtual performance, the costumes were readily available for display, and [it] also provided an opportunity to help promote the performance.” The exquisitely seasonal display is found throughout the historic and hallowed Cheekwood Mansion, where guests can explore costumes and stage props from Nashville’s Nutcracker. More than 80 traditional and non-traditional nutcrackers can be found throughout the spaces as well.
In a year like 2020, seeing all of the various nonprofits, supporting partners and presenting sponsors come together to not only keep the Nutcracker tradition alive but to also forge new and creative ways to bring magic to the holidays, well, it’s a testament to the spirit of Nashville and the hearts of so many dedicated people who live here. “With a year like the one that we have been through, it is important to remember what makes Nashville so remarkable, and that is the strength and perseverance of our community and nonprofit partners like the Ballet and Cheekwood,” says Chelsea Peterson, Vice President, Director of Client and Community Relations – Tennessee at PNC Bank, a supporting sponsor of the televised performance.
And it seems the community has taken a shine to The Nutcracker Marche in the Mansion at Cheekwood as well. “Visitors to Cheekwood have been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Seeing the costumes up close — and alongside 80 traditional nutcrackers placed throughout the historic period rooms — has proven to be a great success, bringing joy and the comfort of tradition to this unprecedented holiday season,” Jane adds.
Thank you to all who are keeping the magic of the holidays alive through their dedication and tireless efforts.
To purchase tickets to Cheekwood’s Holiday LIGHTS, click HERE. And enjoy the televised premiere of Nashville’s Nutcracker, sponsored in part by PNC Bank, on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, at 7 p.m. To watch, tune in to NewsChannel 5 (WTVF Nashville), NewsChannel 5+, or the WTVF app. Nashville’s Nutcracker will be re-aired on December 24, 2020, at 7 p.m. on NewsChannel5+ and December 25, 2020, at 3 p.m. on NewsChannel 5.
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