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Theater Notebook: ‘Not Your Normal Nutcracker’ offers a whimsical, inclusive twist on holiday classic

Oceanside Theatre Co. presents Megill & Company's "Not Your Normal Nutcracker."
(Courtesy of Megill & Co.)

Also this week, Loud Fridge Theatre Group unveils its 2023 season

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‘Tis the season for “Nutcracker” productions around the county, but a dance theater piece created by an Oceanside native is offering a whimsical alternate twist on the traditional Russian holiday ballet this coming weekend, Dec. 16-18.

Megill & Company’s “Not Your Normal Nutcracker,” which is being presented by Oceanside Theatre Co. at the Brooks Theatre in Oceanside, is a body-positive, gender-fluid take on the Russian story of pre-teen Clara who dreams of romance with a nutcracker-turned-prince. “Not Your Normal Nutcracker” imagines a 40-something Clara, who dreams of being a ballet star. In this Clara’s magical kingdom, featuring jazz dance and ballet, Clara encounters life-size rodents, a melting snow kingdom and a land of sweets come to life.

“Not Your Normal Nutcracker” was choreographed by and stars Beth Megill, who was born and raised in Oceanside. Megill and her sister, Heather Reba, formed Megill & Co. in 2002 and together have produced dance productions throughout California.

In years past, Megill ran Oceanside Theatre Company’s youth academy and directed its “Honk, Jr.” production in 2019. Megill & Co. has a “dance for every body” philosophy, which Reba said fosters inclusivity for performers who may not fit the typical “dancer body mold.”

In this production, the dancer playing the Snow Queen is 7 1/2 months pregnant, the Nutcracker Prince is played by a woman, a gender nonconforming dancer is playing both male and female roles, and almost everyone gets to wear a tutu.

“There are certain stories we all love hearing and seeing at the holidays. But it’s also exciting sometimes to mix it up a little, to take a traditional story and apply an unusual filter” said Ted Lieb, Oceanside Theatre Company’s creative director.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 16-17 and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18 at 217 N. Coast Highway, Oceanside. Tickets are $35. Call (760) 433-8900 or visit oceansidetheatre.org.

Loud Fridge Theatre Group's creative team
Loud Fridge Theatre Group’s creative team, founder John W. Wells III, front right, Kate Rose Reynolds, front left, William “BJ” Robinson, back left, and Eboni Muse, back right.
(Courtesy of Loud Fridge Theatre Group)

Loud Fridge Theatre Group unveils 2023 season

Loud Fridge Theatre Group, a San Diego theater company founded in 2019 but on hiatus for most of the pandemic, has announced its first full season of three plays in 2023.

Loud Fridge was founded by John Wells III, Kate Rose Reynolds, William “BJ” Robinson and Eboni Muse with the goal of providing a platform for marginalized communities to tell stories that have historically been overlooked. The 2023 season will include a world premiere, a regional premiere and a co-production with another local theater company.

Here’s the lineup:

“Ripped” by Rachel Bublitz: In this regional premiere, San Diego playwright Bublitz explores the topics of sexual assault on college campuses, the definition of consent and how consent can shift from moment to moment. Wells and Reynolds will co-direct the production starring Amira Temple, Marcel Ferrin, and Devin Wade at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista. Jan. 21-Feb. 5

“Neat by Charlayne Woodard: In this coproduction with Scripps Ranch Theatre, Claire Simba stars in this solo play directed by Kandace Crystal about a Black woman telling the coming-of-age story of her brain-damaged aunt Neat. The play touches on themes of first love, feminism and Black pride. March 24-April 16

“They Could Give No Name” by Exal Iraheta: This world premiere play is about an Arizona medical examiner who descends into near-madness after her fiancé, a border patrol agent, kills a young immigrant girl. Director, location and dates have not been announced.

For details, visit loudfridge.com.

Kragen writes about theater for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Email her at pam.kragen@sduniontribune.com.


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