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Sugar Hill The Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker Coming to New York

Sugar Hill The Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker Coming to New York

Producer David Garfinkle announced today that the World Premiere of Sugar Hill The Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker, the jazz-steeped reimagining of The Nutcracker based on the genre-defying collaboration of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, will debut at Pittsburgh’s Benedum Center for the Performing Arts from October 19-30, 2022. The production will follow with a run at New York City Center (131 W 55th St.) from November 15-27, 2022. Sugar Hill is set to the timeless music of Ellington and Strayhorn and features a libretto and concept by Jessica Swan.

Composer Billy Strayhorn playing piano (Photo by Steve Schapiro/Corbis via Getty Images)

This original production is directed by Emmy Award winner and Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics nominee Joshua Bergasse, with choreography by Jade Hale-Christofi.  The show features a world-renowned creative team of dance superstars, with additional choreography by Caleb Teicher and Jon Boogz, and dance consultation from ten-time Tony Award nominee Graciela Daniele and Kennedy Center Honoree Carmen de Lavallade. Orchestrations and Arrangements are by Grammy® Award-winner John Clayton and three-time Tony Award nominee Larry Blank. Dance arrangement by Mark Hummel and casting by Mungioli Theatricals, Inc.

American musician Duke Ellington (1899-1974). Undated photograph. (Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)

A jazz-steeped retelling of the classic holiday story, Sugar Hill The Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker celebrates the music and magic of the jazz heartbeat of Harlem in Sugar Hill.  A tribute to the joy of collaboration, the beauty of diversity, and the power of individuality.

American composer, pianist and bandleader Duke Ellington (1899-1974) stands on left with jazz composer and arranger Billy Strayhorn (1915-1967) during the recording of the Granada Television show ‘Duke Ellington and his Famous Orchestra’ at Decca Studios in Chelsea, London on 22nd January 1963. The programme would be first aired on British television on 13th February 1963. (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)

1945: Pianist Billy Strayhorn and composer Duke Ellington recording the song “Esquire Jump” in 1945. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

In a shared statement, A. Alyce Claerbaut, Sugar Hill Executive Producer and niece of Billy Strayhorn, along with Mercedes Ellington, director, choreographer, producer, and familial historian, as well as granddaughter of Duke Ellington, said, “Consummate master of self-expression Duke Ellington and classically-trained, jazz genius Billy Strayhorn, took something wholly European, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, and transformed it into a story that symbolizes the American ideal — the freedom of individualism — by marrying it to jazz. There is no finer visual representation of this than through dance.”


Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email:

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