the mayor's new clothes
Austin mayor and 15 others cast as famous Nutcracker mother
Mother is coming home for the holidays. Fans of The Nutcracker — and even anyone who has a tangential knowledge of the holiday stage production — likely recognize the larger-than-life figure of Mother Ginger. In countless productions across the globe, her circus tent-like skirt smuggles in a troupe of child dancers in one of the highlights of each performance.
Part of the fun is the gender-bending: the iconic character is traditionally played 'en travesti" — in simpler terms, by a male performer in drag. Ballet Austin makes the flamboyant experience even more exciting by inviting performers who, regardless of their gender, are well known around Austin. And the less they usually appear in a dress, the more exciting.
For Ballet Austin's 61st annual production of The Nutcracker, ballet Austin has casted 16 community leaders as Mother Ginger. Most well known among them are five local mayors from Austin, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Leander, and West Lake Hills. Other cameos will include other local public servants, Ballet Austin executives, and more.
They'll all be part of choreography by Ballet Austin's Stephen Mills, but these guest stars won't have to worry much about the steps. The scaffolded dress is so huge that their feet will not touch the stage, so all the dancing and acting is done from the waist up. The Austin Symphony Orchestra will play the famous Tchaikovsky score, which includes Christmas classics like the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" and the simply dubbed "March."
“Mother Ginger is a very special character in Act II of The Nutcracker," said Mills in a press release. "For her divertissement, she is rolled on stage atop a platform covered by her white and red satin skirt. We are honored to have dignitaries, business leaders, healthcare professionals and first responders from the growing Central Texas region celebrate this holiday tradition on stage with the community.”
Community leaders cast as Mother Ginger in the 2023 production include:
- Friday, December 1 at 7:30 pm: Jennifer Guthrie, Ballet Austin board member and Managing Director/Senior Private Client Advisor, Texas Capital Bank
- Saturday, December 2 at 2 pm: Ashley Goudeau, Anchor and Political Director, KVUE Austin
- Saturday, December 2 at 7:30 pm: Serena Hicks, Ballet Austin board member and Business Coach, CEO, Serena Hicks LLC
- Sunday, December 3 at 2 pm: The Honorable Kirk Watson, Mayor of Austin
- Friday, December 8 at 7:30 pm: Forrest Preece, long-time Ballet Austin board member and consulting dilettante
- Saturday, December 9 at 2 pm: Robin Henderson, Interim Chief of Police, Austin Police Department
- Saturday, December 9 at 7:30 pm: Robert Luckritz, Chief, Austin-Travis County EMS
- Sunday, December 10 at 2 pm: Matthew Baker, Mayor Pro-Tem, Round Rock
- Friday, Decemeber 15 at 7:30 pm: Christie Clark, Clinical Nurse Coordinator and ICU RN, St. David’s North Austin Medical Center
- Saturday, December 16 at 2 pm: The Honorable Jim Penniman-Morin, Mayor of Cedar Park
- Saturday, December 16 at 7:30 pm: The Honorable Christine DeLisle, Mayor of Leander
- Sunday, December 17 at 2 pm: Amanda Parr, Councilmember, City of Georgetown
- Wednesday, December 20 at 7:30 pm: Matias Segura, Interim Superintendent, Austin ISD
- Thursday, December 21 at 2 pm: The Honorable Linda Anthony, Mayor of West Lake Hills
- Friday, December 22 at 2 pm: Dottie Watkins, President and CEO, CapMetro
- Saturday, December 23 at 2 pm: Ann Graham, Honoring 10 years as Executive Director, Texans for the Arts
Tickets ($15-125) are available at balletaustin.org. Prices range from $15 to $125. Groups of 20 or more should contact Ballet Austin’s Ticketing Services Team at (512) 476-2163.