Instead of dancing through Lively Arts’ ‘Nutcracker,’ the Sugar Plum Fairy will shelter in place

Sorry, Mr. Nutcracker: no coming to life for you in Fresno this December, at least for Lively Arts.

For the first time in decades, the Lively Arts Foundation’s production of “The Nutcracker” will go dark, the victim of Amazon’s ruthless plan to turn the Saroyan Theatre into its dried-fruit-and-nut-slash cupcake pan warehouse. Just kidding. It’s because of the pandemic, of course, whose frustratingly long tendrils are stretching to the end of 2020 and beyond. (And I am so frustrated at having to write about canceled productions!)

December’s show would have been the 29th Lively Arts version of the December holiday tradition.

“In the interest of the health of all concerned this cancellation was inevitable,” says Diane Mosier, Lively Arts artistic director. “Imagine a year not hearing ‘Waltz of the Flowers.”

Each year, Lively Arts brings in professional guest dancers for the major roles. More than a hundred local children and adults also participate.

While it might seem that December is still far, far away, “The Nutcracker” is a many-months endeavor, with auditions and rehearsals starting in the late summer. It was necessary, therefore, to make a final call on whether to stage the production regardless of what the coronavirus situation might be in December. (And, frankly, sitting here in July, things aren’t looking so hot, are they?)


The loss of “Nutcracker” revenue for professional dance companies will likely be devastating. Many companies rely on the guaranteed box-office draw from parents of a never-ending crop of boys wedged into stiff little suits and frilled-up girls teetering on training heels. All that holiday cheer, aka cash, can subsidize the rest of the season, including experimental works and new choreography.

I have a query out to the Valley Performing Arts Council, which puts on Fresno’s other major “Nutcracker” production over Thanksgiving weekend. (In recent years, it has partnered with the Sacramento Ballet and the State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara.) I’ll update the VPAC’s plans when I learn them.

For Mosier, at least, there will be a big hole in her life in the coming months.

“It will be a novel experience for me to have a Christmas where I am calm and rested,” she says.

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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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