Theater News

Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn Nutcracker Ballet to Premiere at New York City Center

The new stage show is inspired by their 1960 musical collaboration.

Duke Ellington Television Performance
Duke Ellington and Billy. Strayhorn (© Getty Images via the production)

Sugar Hill: The Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker will have its world premiere this fall, running November 14-26 at New York City Center and December 19-30 at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago.

Inspired by Ellington and Strayhorn’s 1960 jazz interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker score, the new dance piece features a libretto and concept by Jessica Swan, direction by Joshua Bergasse, and choreography by Jade Hale-Christofi. The team also includes Caleb Teicher and Jon Boogz (additional choreography), Graciela Daniele (dance consultation), and John Clayton and Larry Blank (orchestrations and arrangements).

Set in 1930s Harlem, Sugar Hill follows “the nonconformist daughter of a high-society Black family in Manhattan and her own fantastic dreamworld in the Sugar Hill neighborhood of Harlem.” Casting is still to be announced.

The designers are Joshua Zangen (Scenic Designer), Linda Cho (Costume Design), David Finn (Lighting Design), Austin Switser and Switser + Knight (Projection Design), and John Shivers (Sound Design).