Tis the season for the Nutcracker!
The famous ballet set to a score by Tchaikovsky tells the story of a young girl named Clara who receives a nutcracker one Christmas. At night, the toy is transformed into a handsome prince who takes her to a magical land ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy.
You'll find all sorts of renditions of the Nutcracker ballet this month throughout Southern California, but none quite like "The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker."
The performance is now in its sixth year, playing this time at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown L.A.
The force behind it is Debbie Allen, Artistic Director and founder of the Debbie Allen Dance Academy.
Allen says she was initially inspired to create her own version after taking her 5-year-old son (who's now 27) to a performance of the traditional "Nutcracker."
"He was just bored to death and he yelled out loud, 'Mom! When is the rat coming?' The audience laughed out loud and I realized you know, kids, boys especially, they want something else," Allen says.
So she decided to write her own version, this time with the rats taking center stage as a sort of "Three Stooges" trio. The traditional Tchaikovsky music has been replaced with original songs (one composed by her son "Thump"), and the ballet dancing is mixed in with hip hop and Bollywood routines.
"I love Tchaikovsky," Allen says, "but if you're going to do it different, you might as well do it different, so that's what we did."
To hear the full interview with Debbie Allen, click the link above.
"The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker" plays December 18-19 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Click here for tickets.