The Klezmer Nutcracker

Sun Productions

2162 Broadway • 4th Floor • New York • NY • 10024-6620 • Phone: (212) 799-3753           

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   Please Contact: Stephen Sunderlin (212) 799-3753 








"The enterprising Vital Theatre Company’s production ….contained a theatrical innocence …. fresh, unembarrassed."  John Heilpurn – The New York Observer

"…an amusing play …winning characters and enthusiastic cast …. This sort of thing is the true magic of the theater, the reason to take kids out to a show rather than plop them in front of a DVD." -Joh Sobel,


Performance Schedule Now Runs:

Saturday, December 13 at 11 am and 1pm

Sunday, December 14th at 11 am and 1pm

Thursday, December 18th at 7pm

Friday December 19th at 7pm

Saturday December 20th at 11am and 1pm

Sunday, December 21 at 11 am 1pm and 4pm

Monday, December 22nd at 7pm

Friday, December 26th at 7pm

Saturday, December 27th at 11am and 1pm

Sunday, December 28th at 11am and 1pm

Monday, December 29th at 1pm and 3pm

Tuesday, December 30th at 11am and 1pm

Wednesday, December 31 at 1pm

Thursday, January 1, 2009 at 1pm

Friday, January 2nd at 1pm

Saturday, January 3rd at 11am and 1pm


VITAL THEATRE COMPANY is pleased to announce its family holiday offering, "THE KLEZMER NUTCRACKER." Based on the award-winning book The Golden Dreydl by ELLEN KUSHNER, the production features music by PETER ILLYICH TCHAIKOVSKY, arranged by MICHAEL McLAUGHLIN & DAVID HARRIS and performed by THE SHIRIM KLEZMER ORCHESTRA, a book by ELLEN KUSHNER, direction by LINDA AMES KEY, and choreography by DAX VALDES. The cast includes JONATHAN BAUCHMAN, TONI ANN DENOBLE, DAN GORDON, ALAN HOUSER, CHRISTOPHER MICHAEL LACEY, LINDSEY LEVINE, MELANA LLOYD, JULIE MCKAY DANIELLE STRAUSS, BETHANY WHITE and ELLEN KUSHNER as Tante Miriam. All tickets are $20. The show is appropriate for all ages. For reservations, visit or call (212) 579-0528. VITAL THEATRE COMPANY is located at 2162 Broadway, 4th Floor, at 76th Street, on the Upper West Side.

"THE KLEZMER NUTCRACKER" tells the story of Sara, who is miserable at the family Chanukah party. But when mysterious Tante Miriam arrives with the gift of a Golden Dreydl, everything changes. The Dreydl is an enchanted princess in disguise and whirls Sara away on an exciting adventure through a magical world. "THE KLEZMER NUTCRACKER" is a delightful spin on the traditional story of "The Nutcracker," and weaves together threads of Jewish folklore with fantasy, humor and holiday cheer.

ELLEN KUSHNER is the host and writer of the award-winning national public radio show PRI's Sound & Spirit, a co-production of WGBH Radio, Boston, hailed by Bill Moyers as "the best show on public radio!" With the band Shirim, she created the original radio version of The Golden Dreydl: a Klezmer "Nutcracker" for Chanukah (winner of a Gracie Allen Award), which was then released as a CD on Rykodisc. In 2007 an expanded chapter book, The Golden Dreydl, appeared from Charlesbridge publishing, and in 2008 Vital Theater commissioned a full-scale theatrical version. Ellen Kushner is also a performance artist and award-winning fiction writer for teens and adults. Her short fiction for young readers based on fairy tale and folklore appears in the award-winning anthology The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales and in Troll's Eye View, and her novel Thomas the Rhymer (World Fantasy Award, Mythopoeic Award) is considered a modern classic of mythic fantasy. Her most recent novel is The Privilege of the Sword (NYPL "Best Books for the Teen Age, Nebula nominee, Tiptree Honor Book, Locus Award). A popular public speaker, she also teaches writing at workshops in the U.S. and abroad, and is a co-founder of the Interstitial Arts Foundation. She lives in New York City.

THE SHIRIM KLEZMER ORCHESTRA features some of the most respected and experienced virtuosos of the klezmer movement. Band leader Glenn Dickson was the klezmer soloist in the Hollywood film "A Stranger Among Us," and the band was featured on the soundtrack of Woody Allen's "Deconstructing Harry." Based in Boston, Shirim has four recordings out on Newport Classic and Northeastern Records. The members of THE SHIRIM KLEZMER ORCHESTRA also perform in "Naftule's Dream", an avant jazz/klezmer band which has recorded four albums on John Zorn's Tadzick/Radical Jewish Culture label. As "Naftules Dream" they have performed all over Europe including the Berlin, Germany Jazzfest, as well as the New York City Jazz Festival, the Bell Atlantic Jazz Festival in Washington, DC, and the Ashkenaz Festival of New Yiddish Culture in Toronto, among others. Shirim is internationally recognized for rocking renditions of classic klezmer and Yiddish music as well as fresh and creative innovations.

LINDA AMES KEY has directed TWILIGHT LOS ANGELES: 1992; BANG BANG YOU'RE DEAD (Fringe First Winner, Edinburgh Fringe Festival); THE LARAMIE PROJECT (Fringe First Winner); THE LARAMIE PROJECT, Cochrane Theatre, London; ANTON IN SHOW BUSINESS, THREE DAYS OF RAIN, BRINK OF LIFE, THE LARAMIE PROJECT, KATHY AND MO, WHATEVER WILL BE with Dreamcatcher Rep; 365 Days/365 Plays for Gansfeld: EMBRACING FREEDOM, REMEMBER THE DREAM for the Ellis Island Foundation; LONE STAR GRACE, RITA FAYE PRUITTE by Suzanne Bradbeer and FLYER by Kate Aspengren for Six Figures Theatre Company; FULL BLOOM, THE RISEN CHRIS, BETHLEHEM, MY WIFE'S COAT and OVERHEAD for Vital Theatre; A (TOOTH) FAIRY TALE, MY NEW YORK and THE NASTIEST DRINK IN THE WORLD for Vital Family Programs; ALISON'S HOUSE and OF SLEEP AND SHADOW at the Mint Theatre Company, NIGHTS AT THE CIRCUS, CLOWNING THE BARD and CLOWNING THE BIBLE at FringeNYC, DEGAS IN NEW ORLEANS at E.S.T's Oktoberfest. As a producer: Vital Signs 9,10 & 11, Andria Laurie's THE AWAKENING, Sherry Kramer's WALL OF WATER, Katt Lissard's DARK LANTERN and Watermark's Wordfire Festival featuring David Cale and Dael Orlandersmith. She has served as Director of the Mint Process Company, NY Liaison for Mannie Manim Productions, South Africa; Brink Productions, South Australia; State Theatre of South Australia and Melbourne Theatre Company; Artistic Director of Six Figures Theatre Company for five years: US Drama at Greenwich Academy. She was the Producing Director and is now the Education Director of Vital Theatre Company in NYC.

DAX VALDES has choreographed A (TOOTH) FAIRY TALE and PINKALICIOUS, THE MUSICAL at Vital Theater Company. Other credits include ALTAR BOYZ (Millbrook Playhouse), HONOR (Prospect Theater Company) and THE FULL MONTY (The Gallery Players - 1st NYC revival).

The design team includes set designer ADAM KOCH, lighting designer CHRISTINA WATANABE, and costume designer HUNTER KACZOROWSKI. KARA TEOLIS is the Production Stage Manager and LEAH MCVEIGH is the Stage Manager.

VITAL THEATRE COMPANY is the winner of two Awards for Excellence for its Family Programming by the Off-Off Broadway Review and has received high acclaim from audiences and critics alike for being a "wonderful place for parents to introduce their kids to the glories of live theatre, done well and at modest prices." Now in its tenth year, the company is dedicated to producing entertaining and educational theatre for young audiences.

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