Maud Hart Lovelace and Betsy, Tacy, and Tib are all characters in a 1921 historical adaptation of the traditional holiday Nutcracker, presented by the Fine Arts School of Ballet in Mankato. A North Woods Nutcracker incorporates the history of Mankato, New Ulm, and St. Paul, including a cast of historic characters, most notably F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Mankato-born soprano Florence Macbeth, the Hubbards, and Maud Hart Lovelace.
In the first act of the ballet, a lively Christmas Eve party scene is set against a backdrop of the interior of the Hubbard House, as guests arrive and are announced. At the party Maud is reunited with her childhood friends Frances Kenney and Marjorie Gerlach. As they reminisce, three young girls representing “Betsy” and “Tacy” dance their first meeting with “Tib”. Florence sings songs from the era and couples waltz and polka. The Fitzgeralds show off the newest rage: the Charleston.
As the party winds down, Uncle Drosselmeier from New Ulm presents his niece Marie with a Bavarian style Nutcracker he carved. The gift carries with it an idealistic hope for a world of peace, health, and freedom. When it starts to snow, Marie and her friends go sledding down Main Street Hill. When the snowstorm turns into a blizzard, a terrified Marie loses her way and is surrounded by coyotes and cougars. Suddenly, the Nutcracker comes to life as her brave Prince and summons up troops of both American and German soldiers. They join forces to protect Marie. An aviator crash lands and joins the battle, and a Red Cross nurse appears to treat the young soldier, as well as wounds on all sides. While stranded on the half-frozen river, Marie sees a vision of the Ice Palace from Mankato’s 1920 Winter Carnival, and the aviator and nurse are transformed into the Ice King and Queen.
Freezing in the brutally cold Minnesota winter, Marie dreams of the perpetual spring in the hothouse of the Como Park conservatory, where she visited just before the Christmas party. The audience is transported to St. Paul in Act Two, which represents Marie’s pleasant reverie and showcases the diverse heritages within Minnesota, from the Welsh Singers of Cambria to the gymnasts known as the “New Ulm Turners.” Also in Act Two, Zelda Fitzgerald finally realizes her dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer when she assumes the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in the ballet.
The director, Annmarie Carlson Drake, has worked closely with Blue Earth County Historical Society in providing historical research and photos, as well as historically-accurate costuming and backdrop details. Annmarie is still looking for people to portray historical characters in the party scene and to help paint sets. If interested in portraying a character, contact Annmarie: firstname.lastname@example.org or if interested in painting sets, contact Kelly Dinsmore: email@example.com.