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The Graham Cracker

A Nutcracker Parody

December 3, 2021 @ 7pm

December 4, 2021 @ 2:30 & 7pm

Artistic Director

Amberly M. Simpson

Associate and Technical Director

Joseph R. Brandt

The Graham Cracker: A Nutcracker Parody is the company’s original, spectacle-filled spin on the beloved Christmas ballet, The Nutcracker. The piece takes audiences on a psychedelic sugar rush perfect for the whole family, reimagining Nutcracker heroine Clara as a young girl who feels slighted when she doesn’t get to partake in s’mores at a holiday bonfire. Her journey through battles, snowstorms, and the Land of Sweets helps bring a comical story behind the origin of the s'more!

The Cast


Heather Moran


Graham Cracker

Joseph R. Brandt



Rylan Truman






Candace Kresse


Sugarplum Fairy

Uhstel H. Valentine


Bonfire Goers

Lyric Burris, Allesandra Day, Vivian Ortego, Izzy Parks, Sofia Ritchie, Jennifer Shelton, Scout Tarquinio, Arieanna Washington


Chocolate Clan Warriors

Rylan Cole, Carly Hay, Zoe Huguley, Arnela Jasarevic, Eszter Krizsan


Marshmallow Clan Warriors

Kyli Bell, Madalyn Durst, Evie Feldkamp, Emma Harris


Powdered Sugar Snowflakes

Rylan Cole, Allesandra Day, Madalyn Durst, Carly Hay, Mia Henry, Aila Kolehmainen, Ava Lyons, Mallory McCoy, Semaiah Robertson, Helena Smith-Pohl, Scout Tarquinio, Arieanna Washington, Isabela Wilmes



Rylan Cole, Madalyn Durst, Carly Hay, Mia Henry, Aila Kolehmainen, Ava Lyons, Mallory McCoy, Semaiah Robertson, Helena Smith-Pohl, Isabela Wilmes


Jelly Belly

Jennifer Shelton



Allesandra Day, Scout Tarquinio, Arieanna Washington


Pop Rocks

Vivian Ortego, Izzy Parks, Mallory McCoy, Sofia Ritchie, Semaiah Robertson, Isabella Wilmes



Rachel Bucio Grote, Madalyn Durst, Emma Harris, Candace Kresse



Lyric Burris, Vivian Ortego, Izzy Parks, Sofia Ritchie

The Story

Preshow Improvisation

Improvisational Scoring:

Amberly M. Simpson in collaboration with the Junior Company Dancers


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

"Father-Daughter Dance/Grandparent's Arrival"

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

"Grandfather's Dance"
"Guest's Depart"


Joseph R. Brandt

Act I: The Bonfire

We begin at a wintery bonfire gathering of family and friends. General merriment is upon the partygoers when Drosselmeyer arrives, bringing a new sugary treat: chocolate, and marshmallows, and graham crackers, oh my! They intend to introduce everyone to the glory of the s’more! As marshmallows and chocolate are passed around, the evening turns into a wild psychedelic bash for all but young Clara, who, to her disappointment, has only been given graham crackers lest the sugar be too much for her sweet and innocent demeanor to handle. All of this changes, however, when Clara seizes her opportunity to sneak one of the delightful s’mores…


Music: “Overture”

Choreography: Amberly M. Simpson and the Junior Company Dancers


Music: “March”
Choreography: Amberly M. Simpson

Drosselmeyer and S'Mores

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

Clara's Rebellion/Shifting Realities

Music: “Marie's Dream”
Choreography: Amberly M. Simpson

Act II: The Battle and the Land of Snow

The Battle

Music: "The Battle"

Choreography: Rachel M. Bucio Grote

Staging: Amberly M. Simpson

The Lovers

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

Waltz of the Powdered Sugar Snowflakes

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

Act III: The Land of Sweets

In the Land of Sweets, Marshmallow and Chocolate express their desire to marry to the Sugarplum Fairy, inciting a giant celebration. Blessings from Sugarplum’s Court of Candies abound! The celebration culminates in the formal union of Marshmallow and Chocolate; the lovers are finally safe in each other's arms! But Chocolate and Marshmallow 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, preparing to stage an ambush! Graham Cracker defends Clara and the newlyweds, but falls in battle. Marshmallow and Chocolate are torn apart, cueing a mournful dance as her sugar hallucinations wear off and Clara returns to reality. 

The Sugarplum Fairy

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


Music: “Hot Chocolate”
Choreography: Junior Company Dancers

Jelly Belly

Music: “Coffee”
Choreography: Jennifer Shelton


Music: “Tea”
Choreography: Junior Company/Apprentice Swing Dancers

Pop Rocks

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


Music: “Marzipan”
Choreography: Rachel Bucio Grote, Madalyn Durst, Candace Kresse, and Emma Harris


Music: “Mother Ginger and her Polichinelles” 
Choreography: Apprentice Dancers

The Wedding/First Dance

Music: “Waltz of the Flowers”
Choreography: Amberly M. Simpson

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/Clara's Lament

Music: “Sugarplum Fairy and Cavalier Pas de Deux”
Choreography: Jesse Barfield
Staging: Rachel Bucio Grote and Amberly M. Simpson in collaboration with the dancers

Act IV: Return to the Bonfre

Back at the bonfire, Clara tries to share her story and experience with the other guests, but they simply do not understand. How like adults! Ultimately, Clara must contend with this bittersweet memory on her own, and she is left with new appreciation for the graham crackers she had previously snubbed.

Return to the Bonfire/Clara's Lament Reprise

Music: “Finale”
Choreography: Amberly M. Simpson


Music: “The Sugarplum Fairy and Cavalier Coda”

Thank you for sharing this experience with us!


The Dancers

The Creative Team

Director/Lead Choreographer

Amberly M. Simpson


Featured Choreographers

Jesse Barfield

Joseph R. Brandt

Rachel Bucio Grote

Jennifer Shelton

Sheila Zeng


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


Projection/Scenic Design

Joseph R. Brandt

Amberly M. Simpson


Projection Source Artistry



Mural Superstore 

Rajneesh Mohan


Janice Perry

Mikhail Nilov

Artem Beliaikin



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

by the New York City Ballet Orchestra

“Waltz of the Flowers” Remix by Brian Burrows


Lighting Design

Mollie Murk


Board Operator

Mollie Murk


Costume Design

Typh Hainer-Merwarth


Special Thanks

Rachel Bucio Grote

Horizons Dance Theatre

Highland Community Ministries

Kim Jarett and K. Jarett Photography

Mary Kay Brandt

Kim Joiner

Sheila Zeng

Jesse Barfield

Sandra and Channing Rivera

Dancensation Studios

Noe Middle School All County Dancers

Whitney KC Thompson or ZYIA Activewear

Bourbon Tango, Cherie Lanier, and Clay Marshall

FOKO and Joshua Gonzalez Gaona

The Financial Depot and Lisbet Fernandez

Gabriel Scott

Aubrey’s Teahouse and Aubrey Hinkle

Royal Pampering Day Spa and Melanie Lipsey

Greater Art Solutions Photography and Guillermo A. Sollano

Barre3 and Abigail O’Bryan

Barrell Bourbon and Ned Anderson

Usborne Books & More and Lindsay Guitar

Hive & Barrel Meadery and George Parker

Fante’s Coffee and Mary Fante

Karen Faulkner Law

Middletown Family Chiropractor

Leslie Robinson-Smith

Lane & Edwards Violins and Elizabeth C. Lane

Mindful Spiritual Reiki and Maggie Story

Body Mechanics Massage Therapy Clinic and Paul T. Carney

Rainbow Blossom and Reagan Stremel

Sarino’s Italian Restaurant and Emily Hyman

Woodlake Wellness and Whitney Fallon

Diego M. Bucio Valencia

The Holy Goat, Creighton Mershon, and Jessi Arrington

His & Hers Cleaning and Sydney Coleman

And everyone who donated cotton balls!!!

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