Entertainment

How long can he go? A grandpa does ‘The Nutcracker’ for 4 decades

The Jacksonville-born Henry Rogers, 85, has performed in nearly every ‘First Coast Nutcracker’ since the production was brought to Jacksonville over 40 years ago, News4Jax reports.
The Jacksonville-born Henry Rogers, 85, has performed in nearly every ‘First Coast Nutcracker’ since the production was brought to Jacksonville over 40 years ago, News4Jax reports.

From a burlesque “Nutcracker” in Key West to a recent hip-hop “Nutcracker” at the Arsht Center in Miami to Miami City Ballet’s “all new” version, the popular attraction evolves a bit every year.

But one Jacksonville production of the Tchaikovsky-E.T.A. Hoffmann holiday perennial clings to tradition. Its grandpa has been in the show for 41 years.

The Jacksonville-born Henry Rogers, 85, has performed in nearly every “First Coast Nutcracker” since the production was brought to Jacksonville over 40 years ago, News4Jax reports.

“It has been good advertising for me. As a real estate broker I’m still active. It is interesting to some people,” Rogers told News4.

Rogers said he plans on performing in “The Nutcracker,” which plays Friday-Sunday at the the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, until he “can't do it anymore. Several years I think, ‘Maybe I won't do it this year.’ Come August, I say, ‘I will do it one more year,’” he said.

Wonder what he’d make of this weekend’s Keys version. The naughty oh-so-Key West production is a takeoff on “The Nutcracker” but set in a cabaret club ‘sweets’ setting,” Christa Hunt, founder of Key West Burlesque who plays a character named Sugar Rum Cherry in the production, told The Keynoter.

“Instead of a ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies,’ there will be a ‘Dance of the Frozen Daiquiris.’ Instead of wind-up dolls, there may be bottles of champagne that pop and a dancing nutcracker who does a striptease.”

Key West Burlesque

November’s “Hip-Hop Nutcracker” at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami didn’t deviate much from the original story line, based on the Alexandre Dumas adaptation of Hoffmann’s 1816 story of “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.” But the new version takes place in a New York nightclub set in the 1980s and was told through the language of hip-hop movement and vocabulary.

Miami City Ballet’s new version of choreographer George Balanchine’s holiday classic by Cuban-American artistic power couple Isabel and Ruben Toledo, retired its 27-year production to offer new sets, costuming and staging for the show Friday through Dec. 30 at the Arsht and West Palm Beach’s Kravis Center.

Nutcracker MBC
Miami City Ballet’s 2015 production of choreographer George Balanchine's ‘The Nutcracker,’ at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Miami Herald File

And Miami musician Jim Camacho’s charming children’s adaptation, the “untold story” of “The Mouse King,” recently played the Mandelstam Theater in South Miami for the fifth year.

Howard Cohen: 305-376-3619, @HowardCohen

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