On the Scene: A Chinese Nutcracker is Coming to Town

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For some of us who have lovingly taken our families to see the traditional Nutcracker productions each year, this season you have a special alternative that your families might find a wonderful change.  It comes from Dalian, China titled THE TERRACOTTA PRINCE and will include Tchaikovsky’s music as background for the Dalian Acrobatic Troupe’s talented classical ballet and audacious acrobatics for a great new holiday spin on the old show.

Premiering in Cupertino’s Flint Center on the DeAnza College campus, this NUTCRACKER/THE TERRACOTTA PRINCE has been a popular holiday ballet in many other countries and will be staged in a way never before seen by an American audience. Brought here by Dennis Nahat and his Theatre Venture International, I had the opportunity to speak with Nahat to tell us about this exciting new venture to the Silicon Valley holiday scene.

AW: How did you connect Nutcracker to Terracotta Soldiers?

Nahat:  When I saw the troupe do a warrior dance routine with terracotta soldiers, I immediately told them here was a new nutcracker where I could give it a new shape, new production lighting and present this well-known Chinese entity in a new fashion. Rather than a Russian prince, we now have a Chinese prince and we still travel throughout the world in act two with Russian, Chinese and Arabian dances. This show could be shown throughout the year as it has an international theme of a family and features a young girl’s dream, a prince, and international acrobatic performances of the highest level.

Dennis Nahat at rehearsals with the Dalian Acrobatic Troupe in Dalian, China.

Dennis Nahat at rehearsals with the Dalian Acrobatic Troupe in Dalian, China.

AW: How did you develop this new production without speaking mandarin?

Nahat: Dance is a universal language and their three own choreographers and I worked to develop this work. They were Zhang Yongqiang, Jin Yunjian and Sue Wei with the script adapted by the Dalian Troupe’s director Qi Chunsheng. I promise American families will be thrilled with the skills and production this Chinese version of the Nutcracker will bring to Flint Center’s wonderful stage. Because the troupe is in great demand throughout China, their performance schedule here is for only seven performances which I hope Silicon Valley and Bay Area theatergoers will bring their families to.

Dennis continued to inform me that people are continually amazed at the dance and acrobatic proficiencies of Chinese performers and says it is due to the fact that the Chinese children live and train at the schools every day from age 9 or 10, devoting their lives to not only learning there, but eating and sleeping there in their desire to succeed. These children, he added, are selected because they have shown they have the ability, the physicality and talent. The Dalian Troupe has many graduates who became not only their performers, but also their technicians and choreographers/instructors.  As Nahat concluded, “I could not have created this show anywhere else in the world because most importantly, these enormous talents are all together housed under one roof.  I would not change hundreds of years of training techniques; I just brought a new way of thinking and performing with new works to the enormous talents this Dalian Troupe already possessed.”

I agreed with former Ballet San Jose Artistic Director Dennis Nahat this is a wonderful opportunity to see this North American premiere of the Chinese nutcracker version in the TERRACOTTA PRINCE with amazing physical feats and daring stunts, an international production similar but different from the old standard favorite your child may lament – I’ve seen it before, mom!  The magical TERRACOTTA PRINCE will be presented December 18 to 22  for evening performances and a special one hour children’s matinee with special pre-show entertainment in the lobby by local students of Theatre Ventures International of San Jose on Saturday December 21.  Flint Center will come alive with exciting new performances, and you should be there to see it before it returns to China’s  enthusiastic audiences. For more info visit: www.TerracottaPrince.com. For group discounts visit: www.ticketmaster.com or call the box office: (408) 966-8023. See you there!

HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN

Everyone admits Chinese like to celebrate life’s milestones – whether they be births, birthdays, weddings, and even deaths.  No greater pleasures than celebrating these special times with friends and family, eh? So thought the following hosts.

Age takes precedence so we first herald Frank Mar who brought in relatives from WinnepegToronto, Seattle and Houston to celebrate his 98th birthday in the VIP Room of China Stix Restaurant.  Son Dennis Mar was a wonderful MC who brought up sister Faye Dong to speak, and everyone sang to ageless Frank to the ukelele accompaniment by a Toronto cousin. Most lively diner there was Frank himself, who could out-eat and out-enjoy food to any of his younger friends!

98-year-old Frank Mar celebrates his birthday with family

Frank Mar celebrates his 98th birthday with family

 

Sunnyvale’s Victor Chinn celebrated in grand style when he used the Bingo card theme with his invite, and cake top decorations with the winning number beingV 80.  Over 180 friends whom he said he has had the pleasure of knowing in the various areas of his life – Lockheed engineer career, childhood families ties in Oakland Chinatown, senior bridge playing, swinging singles friends and traveling companions – came to China Stix Restaurant in Santa Clara to herald his coming into his eighth decade.   Even though I didn’t win the Bingo game, Victor is definitely a winner!

Victor Chinn shows off his Bingo themed desserts to William and Nancy Lee, Helen leong, Violet Lee and George Leong

Victor Chinn shows off his Bingo themed desserts to William and Nancy Lee, Helen leong, Violet Lee and George Leong.

 

Husbands are not good planners, admits Gerry Hing, who couldn’t prevent wife Pat, from sitting in the lobby of the Peninsula Golf Club as his guests arrived for her supposed “surprise” party.  As she saw her friends come in, she asked innocently, “What a coincidence. Whose party are you going to? I’m just meeting my cruise mates for a simple reunion dinner.”  As orchid and money leis were presented to her, she finally figured out it was her birthday party that her friends the Sherwin Louies, Howard Setos, Steven Gees, Mel Lees and others were headed to.  It was a surprise after all!

 

Pat Hing’s girlfriends surprise her showing up at her birthday dinner.

Pat Hing’s girlfriends surprise her showing up at her birthday dinner.

 

Gerry and Pat Hing at her Peninsula Golf Club birthday party

Gerry and Pat Hing at her Peninsula Golf Club birthday party

A beautiful sunny autumn day in front of the Berkeley Bay at the lawn of Marina Park was the scene for the nuptials of Doris Wong and Arnold Tung before 200 family and  friends. Bay Area summers many times are fog-ridden and windy, but the Nature Gods smiled upon the wedding party with spectacular weather just before a bright red sunset.   Beaming parents were Jack and Leila Wong and Raymond and Lily Tung welcoming guests at the adjoining Hong Kong East Ocean Seafood Restaurant in Emeryville.

Doris and Arnold Tung greet wedding guests with her parents John and Leila Wong.

Doris and Arnold Tung greet wedding guests with her parents John and Leila Wong.

Especially happy were Grandpa Hasting and Grandma Josephine Wong when they introduced the newest addition to the Wong lineage, according to Hasting, wee lil one year old Alyssa Wong, daughter of  Leon Wong and Connie Chen of Sunnyvale. At the lavish Dynasty Restaurant lunch, grandma Josephine, still active Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Advisor VP, proudly showed Alyssa off to good friends Stephen Lees, Yong Hua Songs, Charles Packs, Norman Tus, Pam Fong,  David and Annie Ng, Jeff and Winnie Ting,  Bill and Cookie Kay, Ken Fong and Ping Li. 

Gerry and Pat Hing at her Peninsula Golf Club birthday party.

Gerry and Pat Hing at her Peninsula Golf Club birthday party.

MORE HOLIDAY DOINGS

San Jose Stage Co. is presenting IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY right after Thanksgiving to December 22 at their downtown San Jose theatre at 490 S. First St.  The Stage will be transformed into a 1940s radio studio where six actors gather to perform the holiday classic as a live radio play on Christmas Eve. The ensemble become the characters, stepping into the familiar scenes that have warmed hearts for generations with this Christmas favorite. I always love this story of dreams of hopes, fears and value of community in a real uplifting tearjerker.  Small and intimate, San Jose Stage Company celebrates its 31st season, and is recognized as the SF Bay Area’s premiere Off Broadway Theatre. www.thestage.org

It’s been a long time since GUYS AND DOLLS have come around, but this musical is always a fun favorite and Broadway by the Bay’s production was a crowd-pleaser this month.  Shown in the historic Redwood City Fox Theatre, their shows, according to Executive Director Darn Carollo, revive old favorite musicals using professional and local talents. He said, “Broadway By The Bay, formerly San Mateo Community Theatre since 1965, is the only major musical theatre company between San Francisco and Palo Alto producing large-scale musical productions using local talents, and is the resident musical theatre company of the Fox Theatre.  For future show listings: broadwaybythebay.org.

While in Redwood City nearby Donato Enotecca was a perfect spot for a post-show dinner. Its contemporary Italian cuisine menu by Chef Donato Scotti has been around since the restaurant’s opening in 2009, and favorites among us, were the roasted wild caught monkfish in squid ink bread crust, oven roasted lamb shank in Sangiovese wine & imported organic soft polenta, and theirspecial appetizer Sicilian “caponata” of eggplant, pine nuts, imported mozzarella di bufala and carta musica.  Juan Morante steered us to the restaurant’s most revered dishes, and from the satisfied faces from Mel and Jeannie Lee, Osla and Isabel Young, Bill Shem and May Young, he was right. Donatoenoteca.com or (650) 701-1000.

Happy diners at Donato Enoteca were Jeannie and Mel Lee, Bill Shem with Manager Juan Morante.

Happy diners at Donato Enoteca were from left to right: Jeannie and Mel Lee, Bill Shem with Manager Juan Morante (standing).

 

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