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The Graham Cracker

A Nutcracker Parody

December 8 & 9, 2023 @ 7pm

December 9 & 10, 2023 @ 2pm

Artistic Director

Amberly M. Simpson

Associate and Technical Director

Joseph R. Brandt


Nakoma Ehrhart, Jade Frost, MAC, Tay Schulz

The Graham Cracker: A Nutcracker Parody is the Ambo Dance Theatre's original, spectacle-filled spin on the beloved holiday ballet, The Nutcracker. This reimagined version of the show tells the coming-of-age tale of Nutcracker heroine Clara as she discovers and and acknowledges her queer identity, taking audiences on a psychedelic sugar rush perfect for the whole family. Her journey through battles, snowstorms, and the Land of Sweets helps bring a comical story behind the origin of the s'more, and helps her to process the complex emotions that come with self-discovery, acceptance, and love!

The Cast


Helena Smith-Pohl

Drosselmeyer / Dew Drop Fairy

May O-Nays


Auntie Sugar / Sugarplum Fairy

Uhstel H. Valentine

Chocolate Connoisseur / General

Nakoma Ehrhart

Marshmallow Connoisseur / General

Candace Kresse


Carly Hay

Bonfire Goers

Caeli Baker-Green, Simon Boice, Chelse Close, Marie Cunningham, Gabbi Ebeling-Rodriguez, Dorothy Henning, Mia Henry, Carolina Kepler, Heather Moran, Jamie Nicholas, Mysti Pride, Milana Shulman, Amberly M. Simpson, Sheila Zeng Dudgeon

Sylvester Graham / Graham Cracker

Joseph R. Brandt



Jade Frost





Chocolate Clan Warriors

  Caeli Baker-Green, Gabbi Ebeling-Rodriguez, Mia Henry, Amberly M. Simpson,


Marshmallow Clan Warriors

Chelse Close, Marie Cunningham, Carly Hay, Jamie Nicholas, Mysti Pride,


Powdered Sugar Snowflakes

***this piece was set on the dancers of Noe Middle School and Grace James Academy as part of a partnership between those school's dance programs and Ambo!***

Grace James Academy (Friday @ 7pm, Saturday @ 2pm)

Davawn Brown, Aniya Dotson, Barsha Gurung, Laila Johnson, Maycee Porter, Aaliyah Smith, Za'Kiyrah Thomas (FRIDAY), Madison Victor, Zyon Watkins (SATURDAY), Saniyah Weaver

Noe Middle School (Saturday @ 7pm, Sunday @ 2pm)

Caeli Baker-Green, Alexandria Davis, Samira Javed, Natasha Kouvebi, Charlotte Neumann, Bianca Rosa, Alexus Ross, Lucy Russell, Milana Shulman, Sasha Wade

Sugarplum's Sprinkles

Chelse Close, Gabbi Ebeling-Rodriguez, Mysti Pride, Sheila Zeng Dudgeon


Caeli Baker-Green, Marie Cunningham, Carly Hay, Mia Henry,  Carolina Kepler, Heather Moran (FRIDAY), Milana Shulman (SATURDAY/SUNDAY)



Caeli Baker-Green, Simon Boice, Carolina Kepler

Jelly Belly

Jennifer Shelton


Pop Rocks

Mia Henry, Heather Moran, Jamie Nicholas, Amberly M. Simpson



Caeli Baker-Green, Simon Boice, Carly Hay, Mia Henry



Chelse Close, Mysti Pride, Sheila Zeng Dudgeon

Jabba the Cotton Candy

Zachary J.  Boone

Cotton Candy Wisps

***this piece was set on the dancers of the Lincoln Performing Arts School as part of a partnership between those school's dance programs and Ambo!***


Paxton Adams, Khloe Bonhomme, Stev'e Clayton, Coleman Frederick,

Everett Glasnovic, Thea Rounsavall, Kristian Todd, Elena Ucan Shadle,

Ja'Shawn Wilford, Makenna Yarbrough 


Paxton Adams, Snow Castillo, Juliana Dawkins, Lillian Holbrook, Ophelia Olenick, Aniyla Queen-Cooper, Kae'Yah Taylor, Jermani Vannerson,

Isis Watters, LeeShelle Williams


DeZarie Bibb, Althea Burkhead, Laila Harper, Ophelia Olenick, Alizah Pickett, Aniyla Queen-Cooper, Lola Sweat, Elena Ucan Shadle, Thea Rounsavall, Jermani Vannerson


Paxton Adams, Robert Allen Jr, Addison Franklin, Everett Glasnovic,

Abigail Harrod, Britain Marshall, Opehlia Olenick, Aniyla Queen-Cooper,

Kristian Todd, Jermani Vannerson

The Story

Act I

Scene 1: The Bonfire

We begin at a wintery bonfire gathering of family and friends hosted by Drosselmeyer and Auntie Sugar. As the partygoers engage in general merriment, romantic sparks fly between young Clara and another bonfire guest, Marie. Inspired by the sweetness of young love, Drosselmeyer and Auntie Sugar attempt to aid their beloved Clara in embracing her budding feelings and queer identity through the metaphor of a sugary treat: the s'more! While this angers the Marshmallow and Chocolate Connoisseurs, the majority of the party delights in the idea of bringing these delightful sweets together: chocolate, and marshmallows, and graham crackers, oh my! When Clara and Marie share a s'more together, however, Clara's mind wanders into a daydream of epic proportions...


Music: “Overture”

Choreography: Amberly M. Simpson

Guests Arrive

Music: “"Marie and Fritz Awake/Guests Arrive/Unveiling of the Christmas Tree"

Choreography and Staging: Jade Frost and Tay Schulz in collaboration with the dancers


Music: "Father-Daughter Dance/Grandparent's Arrival"
Choreography and Staging: Jade Frost and Tay Schulz

The Bonfire

Music: “March”
Choreography: Amberly M. Simpson

Drosselmeyer and S'Mores

Music:  “Gifts/Herr Drosselmeyer’s Arrival with His Nephew/Toy Dolls/Toy Soldiers”
Choreography and Staging: Amberly M. Simpson and Tay Schulz

Shifting Realities

Music: “Marie's Dream”
Choreography and Staging: Jade Frost, Tay Schulz, and MAC incollaboration with the dancers

Scene II: The Battle and the Land of Snow

Clara, in a sugar-induced fantasy, soon finds herself in the throes of an epic battle between the Marshmallow Clan and the Chocolate Clan. After centuries of feuding, they have gone to war yet again over the discovery that two of their own have fallen in love with each other. Clara sets out to help the star-crossed lovers as chaos ensues. When the Marshmallow Clan and Chocolate Clan clash in an epic battle before her eyes, the noble Graham Cracker shows up to protect Clara, and together they help the Marshmallow and Chocolate lovers escape. Clara, Graham Cracker, and the lovers flee into a snow storm, ending up at the Palace of the Sugarplum Fairy in the Land of Sweets. However, their feels of safety and security are short-lived as the Chocolate and Marshmallow armies follow close behind...

Battle Preparations

Music: "Requiem Prism"

Choreography and Staging: Amberly M. Simpson, Nakoma Ehrhart, Jade Frost, and Tay Schulz

The Battle

Music: "The Battle"

Choreography and Staging: Amberly M. Simpson, Nakoma Ehrhart, Jade Frost, and Tay Schulz


The Lovers

Music: “Nutcracker and Marie Depart for the Pine Forest”
Choreography: Amberly M. Simpson
, Jade Frost, and MAC

Waltz of the Powdered Sugar Snowflakes

"Music: “Waltz of the Snowflakes”
Choreography: Sheila Zeng Dudgeon and Amberly M. Simpson
Staging: Amberly M. Simpson

The Truce

Music: "Requiem Prism"

Choreography and Staging: Jade Frost, and Tay Schulz

Act II

Scene 1 The Land of Sweets

In the Land of Sweets, Marshmallow and Chocolate express their desire to be married to the Sugarplum Fairy, inciting a giant celebration. All of the candies in Sugar Plum's court gather to imparts gifts and pass their blessings on to the lovers. As their wedding concludes with a bang, Chocolate and Marshmallow are euphoric and enraptured with each other. But, alas, the Lovers haven't lost their star-crossed status just yet. With their attention fixated on each other, and Clara and the Graham Cracker celebrating their great victory, hostile members of the Chocolate and Marshmallow clans are spotted sneaking around in the palace. An ambush is upon them!

The Palace

Music: "Herr Drosselmeier's Gifts: Hobby Horse, The Nutcracker"

Choreography: Jade Frost and Tay Schulz in collaboration with the dancers

The Sugarplum Fairy

Music: “Sugarplum Fairy”
Choreography: Amberly M. Simpson


Music: “Hot Chocolate”
Choreography: Amberly M. Simpson and Heather Moran in collaboration with the dancers

Jelly Bellies

Music: “Coffee”
Choreography: Jennifer Shelton and Amy Gibson


Music: “Marzipan”
Choreography: Jade Frost and Amberly M. Simpson


Music: “Grandfather's Dance” 
Choreography: MAC

Pop Rocks

Music: “Candy Cane”
Ensemble Choreography: Joseph R. Brandt

Duo Choreography: Joseph R. Brandt and Jade Frost


Music: “Tea”
Choreography: Jade Frost


Cotton Candy

Music: “Mother Ginger and her Polichinelles” 
Choreography: Amberly M. Simpson 

The Wedding/First Dance

Music: “Waltz of the Flowers”
Choreography: Amberly M. Simpson, Jade Frost, and MAC

The Sugarplum Fairy's Blessing

Music: “Waltz of the Flowers” Remix by Brian Burrows
Solo Choreography: Uhstel H. Valentine
Ensemble Choreography: Amberly M. Simpson

Lover's Bliss/The Ambush/Re-Writing History

Music: “Sugarplum Fairy and Cavalier Pas de Deux”
Lover's Bliss Choreography: Jade Frost and MAC

Graham Cracker and Clara's Duet Choreography: Joseph R. Brandt and Helena Smith-Pohl
The Ambush Staging: Joseph R. Brandt and Amberly M. Simpson in collaboration with the dancers

Re-Writing History Staging: Jade Frost and Tay Schulz

Scene 2: Return to the Bonfre


Graham Cracker defends Clara and the newlyweds, but falls in battle. Marshmallow and Chocolate are torn apart. Shocked and devastated, Clara remembers...Marie, Drosselmeyer, Auntie Sugar, the merriment of the bonfire as everyone embraced the idea of the s'more. Love doesn't have to end this way! Remembering the support of her community, Clara's sugary hallucination wears off and she finds herself right where she had been before, sharing a s'more with Marie. Feeling assured in herself and her identity, she enjoys her s'more wholeheartedly and dances the night away.

Return to the Bonfire

Music: “Finale”
Choreography: Amberly M. Simpson

Staging: Jade Frost and Tay Schulz


Music: “The Sugarplum Fairy and Cavalier Coda”

Thank you for getting silly with us this holiday season!


The Creative Team

Artistic Director / Lead Choreographer

Amberly M. Simpson

Collaborating Directors

Joseph R. Brandt

Nakoma Ehrhart

Jade Frost


Tay Schulz

Featured Choreographers

Jade Frost

Joseph R. Brandt

Amy Gibson

Heather Moran

Jennifer Shelton

Sheila Zeng


***all choreography is created and developed in collaboration with the dancers!***


Projection Design

Joseph R. Brandt

Amberly M. Simpson

Lighting Design

Lindsay Krupski


Sound and Projection Operator

Rylan Cole

Sofia Ritchie


Costume Design

Mary Kay Brandt

Jade Frost

Typh Hainer-Merwarth

Tay Schulz

Amberly M. Simpson

Props and Set Design

Melissa Bowen

Jade Frost

Tay Schulz

Joseph R. Brandt



“The Nutcracker” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's, recorded 

by the New York City Ballet Orchestra

“Waltz of the Flowers” Remix by Brian Burrows

"Requiem Prism" by Alibi Music


Projection Source Artistry



Mikhail Nilov

Special Thanks

Rachel Bucio Grote

Mary Kay Brandt

Zachary J. Boone, Melissa Case, Amos Hopkins, and the Lincoln Performing Arts School

Jade Zilisch and Grace James Academy

The Noe Middle School Dance Program

A special thank you to our Silent Auction donors!


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The Sweet Spot Candy Shoppe
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What Makes You Smile 

Every cast member who helped to clean our stash of cotton balls,

And everyone who donated new cotton balls!!!

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