The Nutcracker Sentry Box
By Jim Gerrish

This began as a production of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet as a way for Herr Drosselmeyer to conjure up the wooden soldier nutcracker that he gives to Clara in the piece. It needed to be simple enough for a non-magician actor/ballet dancer to perform. The company was so delighted with the appearance of the Nutcracker, that they wanted to add some additional productions of gifts for the other children in the ballet, so part two was added. Both productions were based on the works of Louis S. Histed, the inventor of the Square Circle. The Sentry Box was a variation of his Chinese Pagoda Crystal Cylinder production, which seemed to me to be an ideal shape for a Sentry Box for the Nutcracker Soldier. However, I greatly simplified it so it could be produced by a dancer whirling around the open stage with the box in his hands.

When the request came for a continued production of small gifts from the same box, I went back to Histed and “borrowed” his “Tip-up Table Load.” My version looked more like an antique table that Herr Drosselmeyer finds onstage in the background and pulls out as a resting place for the Sentry Box when he presents the Nutcracker to Clara. The mysterious appearance of the gifts within the box was a topic of much conversation among the children in the ballet who were not in on the secret, although they saw it performed many times.

You don't need the ballet to perform the production of the Nutcracker and subsequent gifts... just Christmas. If Christmas isn't available, any Toy Soldier will do at any time of year. Excerpts from The Magic of Louis S. Histed are included.



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