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Puppeteer's 'Nutcracker' gets nutty

November 16, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

MARTINSBURG, W.VA - Joe Santoro apologized to deceased composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky for his rendition of "The Nutcracker" that opened Saturday at Wonderment Puppet Theatre.

"'The Nutcracker' was culture. We took culture and threw it in the trash can," Santoro told the audience before his second show Saturday. "This is a fracture of 'The Nutcracker.' So wherever Tchaikovsky is, please forgive me."

Santoro's "Nutty Nutcracker" took the traditional version and twisted it into a wrestling match and a variety show that was well-received by the crowd of parents and children.

The one-man show featured 14 puppets, including original 'Nutcracker' figures Clara (Marie), the Mouse King and, of course, the Nutcracker.

"I needed a Christmas show. All puppeteers have one," Santoro said. "I had one - 'The Elves and the Shoemaker' - but it was very standard, story stuff. I liked the idea of doing a variety show because it keeps changing. I thought to myself, 'I could come up with a Christmas show for "The Nutcracker" and turn it into a variety show.' ... I could call it the 'Nutty Nutcracker.'"

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The show has been in the makings since May and finally debuted Saturday. All staging, lights, props and puppets were created at Wonderment.

The theatre will host half-hour shows every Saturday and Sunday and noon and 2 p.m. through Jan. 4.

"For six months, I've been trying to put it into some kind of order," Santoro said. "I had a general idea of where it was going to go, but I wasn't entirely sure."

"Nutty Nutcracker" is the fourth show presented by Santoro at Wonderment Theatre, which opened in March. Previous shows were fractured versions of "The Frog Prince," "The Little Red Hen Cooking Show" and the "Hokie Pokie Magic Puppet Show."

"The Elves and the Shoemaker" is scheduled to show in January and February, followed by a fracture of "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" in March and April.

Currently, Wonderment has a room for birthday celebrations, an exhibit hall that features countless photos, props and puppets from shows around the world, and the theatre room, which fits about 35 people.

"When we get to the point when we have to give out reservations, we know we're going to be here to stay," Santoro said.

Expansion plans include a piata room for more extravagant birthday parties and an outdoor stage for summer productions.




If you go ...



WHAT: "Nutty Nutcracker"

WHEN: Shows every Saturday and Sunday through Jan. 4., noon and 2 p.m.

WHERE: Wonderment Puppet Theatre, 412 W. King St., Martinsburg, W.Va.

COST: $4.50 for anyone older than 2 years old.

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