‘The Nutcracker’ returns

“The Nutcracker” returns this weekend to Pepperdine’s Smothers Theater for its annual performances Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Photo by Clark Prestridge

For more than two decades, the Malibu Civic Ballet and Ballet & Performing Arts Society have kept “The Nutcracker” on its toes in spite of fundraising difficulties. The iconic annual production returns this weekend to Malibu.

By Kim Devore / The Malibu Times

As a cozy and close-knit community, Malibu has no shortage of annual traditions – the Chili Cook-off, the Malibu Triathlon, the Chumash Festival, the popular Arts Festival and the always delicious although messy pie eating contest. But when it comes to the holidays, nothing quite beats the magic and fantasy of the beloved “Nutcracker.”

“The Nutcracker” returns to town on Dec. 9, 10 and 11.

The inspiration for the yearly extravaganza comes from the Malibu Ballet & Performing Arts Society. The Malibu Civic Ballet’s production started more than 20 years ago, soon after the Smothers Theater opened at Pepperdine University. It has been delighting kids of all ages ever since.

Dedicated arts patron Liane Weintraub says the local ballet has a long and distinguished history.

“For much of the 26 years that the Malibu Ballet & Performing Arts Society has been this community’s main charitable organization, it has supported locally based arts programs with as many as half a dozen student and semi-professional dance companies,” Weintraub says. “Several generations of local students have grown up in this flourishing artistic environment, and many have gone on to become professionals.”

The dance tradition moves from generation to generation.

“The Malibu Civic Ballet, under the direction of Diane Linder, has managed to create a cohesive ‘whole’ with little children looking up to their teenage idols and hoping one day to fill their pointe shoes,” Weintraub says.

But like all arts organizations in a tough economy, the local “Nutcracker” faces several hurdles. Fundraising has been a big challenge, especially in the past several years. 

“While tickets always sell well, the Malibu Nutcracker is no different than any other ballet production. Costs are greater than the income provided by ticket sales,” Weintraub explains. “The Ballet Society continues to face mounting financial challenges in a troubled economy. There is a community-based ownership of the ballet; on the other hand, it is a difficult and labor-intensive task to raise the necessary funds each year dollar by dollar.”

Still, there has been a large grassroots effort to keep the production going.  

“The outpouring of support has been remarkable,” Weintraub says. “From the brisk sales at our fundraising, to the community support for the golf cart raffle, to ticket purchases for the performances themselves, a local production like this one absolutely depends upon community-based support.”

Thanks to that support, the Malibu community can enjoy another year of Clara and her prince, the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Land of Sweets.

Best of all, it’s a local holiday tradition.

“The Malibu Nutcracker delivers year after year,” Weintraub says. “People come back every season to see the show they have all come to love.”