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Ahwatukee Nutcracker gets a new name – and a movie | community focus

After 22 years, The Ahwatukee Foothills Nutcracker has been renamed The Arizona Nutcracker, and anyone under the age of 18 can prepare for their debut performances in December by registering for one of the August 20 audition times at Dance Studio 111.

Kimberly Lewis, owner of Dance Studio 111 and producer of “Nutcracker,” said her production is still the state’s only all-youth and children’s performance of the holiday classic.

The pandemic and reality prompted Lewis to change the production she created 23 years ago — one to which she devotes attention and detail, from surprising her post-audition selection of queens each year to putting a sign in her backyards before waking up to a special pre-show dinner for them to handcrafted costumes.

For one, the 2020 pandemic had prompted the Tempe Union High School District to close its schools, forcing Lewis to find an alternative to Desert Vista High School’s theater, the venue where “Ahwatukee Nutcracker” had been performed .

She chose the new Madison Center for the Performing Arts in Phoenix, which likely offers an upgraded ambiance for “Nutcrackers.”

More importantly, while most of their cast members traditionally lived in Ahwatukee, Lewis based their cast choices on talent rather than address, and while some cast members came from other parts of the valley, other cast members were unsure if they were allowed.

I changed the name to the Arizona Nutcracker because we now do all of our performances at the Madison Center for the Arts Theater and the new name would encourage more dancers from our state to come and be a part of our “Nutcracker.” said Lewis, who opened Dance Studio 111 about 29 years ago.

“We’re the only ‘Nutcracker’ whose entire cast is made up of children,” she noted. “We have so many talented young dancers in the valley that I wanted them to play these roles now and not have to wait until they are adults to play the roles of Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow Queen, Spanish Queen, Marzipan Queen, Arabian Queen and to take over the Russian Queen etc.”

“So many dancers across the valley thought this ‘Nutcracker’ was only for dancers who attend my dance studio in Ahwatukee, and that’s not the case,” added Lewis. “This ‘nutcracker’ is open to all young dancers across the valley.”

The renaming isn’t the only new development in Lewis’ storied love affair with Nutcracker.

The production of last year’s extravaganza has been made into a documentary that could hit Netflix.

For now it’s available on tubitv.com, but Lewis said if it gets enough views it could make its way to the more famous streaming platform. People can access it at tubitv.com and search “Road to Nutcracker.”

The PG-rated production takes viewers behind the scenes of Lewis’ production, from the audition to the cast’s emotional reactions backstage to the play’s conclusion.

This year, “Arizona Nutcracker” — complete with a visit from Santa during afternoon matinees — will be held at 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on December 17 and at 1:00 p.m. on December 18 at the Madison Center for the Performing Arts , 5601 N. 16th St. presents ., Phoenix.

Info: thearizonanutcracker.com

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