Theater News

Cast Announced for the World Premiere of Sugar Hill: The Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker

The show is a jazz reimagining of the ballet featuring the music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

Brenda Braxton
Brenda Braxton
(© David Gordon)

The complete cast has been announced for the world premiere of Sugar Hill: The Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker at New York City Center. The show will play there November 17-26 before moving to Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre December 19-30.

The production will star Jinhao Zhang and Josué Gomez as Nutcracker, Alicia Mae Holloway as Lena, Shavey Brown as Sweet Pea, Jennifer Jade Ledesna as The Angel, Kenneth Darryl Ard (Cats) as Uncle Dross, and Brenda Braxton (Smokey Joe’s Cafe) as Mother Sugar/Mama Stall. The rest of the cast is Nikolas Danilovich-Eugene Gaifullin, Larissa Gerszke, Nayara Lopes, Natascha Mair, Tatiana Nuñez, Scott Weber, Audrey Borst, Joshua Dawson, Nathan Fister, Johnathon Darcelle Hart, Ayaka Kamei, Laura Katherine Kaufman, Amarachi Valentina Korie, Muata Ayodele Langley, James Luc, Chase Maxwell, Charlotte McKinley, Dario Natarelli, Megan Prout, Jocelyn Iris Raykumar, Ange ‘Gregg’ Sainvilus, Tyler D. Singletary, Olivia Tang-Mifsud, and Matt Wiercinski.

Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Award nominee and Emmy winner Joshua Bergasse (Smash) directs and choreographs the production, with choreography by Jade Hale-Christofi, additional choreography by Caleb Teicher and Emmy nominee Jon Boogz (Blindspotting), and dance consultation from Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement recipient Graciela Daniele. Sugar Hill will feature music direction and vocal arrangement by Rob Cookman.

Sugar Hill places the classic ballet of The Nutcracker in the 1930s as seen through the lens of the nonconformist daughter of a high-society Black family in Manhattan and her own fantastic dreamworld in the Sugar Hill neighborhood of Harlem. Sugar Hill is set to the music of the collaboration between jazz icons Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, with a libretto and concept by Jessica Swan. Orchestrations and arrangements are by Grammy winner John Clayton and three-time Tony nominee Larry Blank, with dance arrangements by Paul Masse.

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