Kimmel Center debuts streaming premiere of The Hip Hop Nutcracker with special appearance by rap pioneer MC Kurtis Blow

-Courtesy of The Kimmel Cultural Campus

The Kimmel Cultural Campus is proud to present the streaming premiere of The Hip Hop Nutcracker, a contemporary dance spectacle, on Saturday, December 12, at 7 pm. Tickets to the streaming event must be purchased in advance and are available at kimmelcenter.org. This holiday mash-up is set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless music and is reimagined through a multi-camera, fast-pasted, production supercharged with a dozen all-star break dancers, a DJ, a violinist. There is also a special appearance by MC Kurtis Blow, one of the founding fathers of rap music, who opens the show.   

“Despite the ongoing closure of our Campus, and the complete cessation of income, we are more determined than ever this Holiday Season to engage the region’s diverse communities with art through our innovative digital platforms,” says Anne Ewers, President & CEO of the Kimmel Cultural Campus. “We are proud to bring The Hip Hop Nutcracker to Philadelphia audiences for the first time. What a perfect opportunity to experience this innovative take on a holiday favorite! Proceeds from this and several of our other streaming events will support our ‘Road to Reopening’ Relief Fund.”     

Just like the original, in The Hip Hop Nutcracker Maria-Clara and the Nutcracker Prince go on a dream adventure battling a gang of mice, visiting the land of sweets, and learning the lessons of the holiday season. Innovative digital graffiti and visuals transform the landscape of ETA Hoffman’s beloved story from traditional 19th Century Germany to the vibrant, diverse sights and sounds of contemporary New York City.  Through this re-mixed and re-imagined version of the classic, the dynamic performers ofThe Hip Hop Nutcracker take us on a journey that celebrates love, community, and the magic of the holiday season.   

This virtual production is directed and choreographed by University of Pennsylvania graduate and Olivier Award nominee, Jennifer Weber, and is produced by the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) with Executive Producer, Eva Price, and is co-commissioned by the United Palace of Cultural Arts. Proceeds from this virtual event will benefit the Kimmel Cultural Campus’ ‘Road to Reopening’ Relief Fund.   

“We’re thrilled to partner with the Kimmel Center this year, bringing this wonderful show to new audiences in the Philadelphia region,” says NJPAC Producer David Rodriguez. “In this difficult year, it was important to us that audiences be able to experience the magic of The Hip Hop Nutcracker from the comfort and safety of their own homes.” 

“While I’m saddened we can’t take The Hip Hop Nutcracker on the road this year, I’m thrilled we’re able to find a way to bring this show to audiences around the country for the seventh consecutive season,” says Executive Producer and Tony Award© winner Eva Price. “This will be a holiday season unlike any other. I’m so glad we’ll have this comforting, inspiring and inclusive tradition to provide much-need and well-earned joy.”  

General admission tickets are $25 and allow virtual guests the opportunity to stream the show the night of the event only. There is also a VIP ticket for $55 that allows guests to stream the show the night of the show and then view “on-demand” for 48 hours.  VIP ticket holders also get access to a live, post-show talkback with the show’s creators as well as an autographed poster that will be mailed to your home. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit kimmelcenter.org. The Kimmel’s presentation of The Hip Hop Nutcracker is generously sponsored by Merck.  

JENNIFER WEBER (Director/Choreographer) is an Olivier Award-nominated choreographer based in New York City. She recently made her West End debut with & Juliet (Olivier Award Nominee, Whatonstage Award Nominee), a new musical featuring the songs of pop songwriter, Max Martin which opened at the Shaftesbury Theater in London fall of 2019.  Weber recently choreographed, Disney’s Zombies 2, which was released on the Disney Channel in Feb 2020. Weber was commissioned by New York City Center to create a new work for NYCB principal dancer Tiler Peck and hip-hop legend Lil Buck for the 2018 Fall For Dance Festival. This piece will be featured in the upcoming live capture A New Stage, produced by CLI Studios. Her concert dance work has been performed at Jacob’s Pillow, The Apollo, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, London’s Southbank Center, and The Stanislavsky Music Theatre, Moscow.  Theatre choreography credits include KPOP (Ars Nova/Lortel Nom), Teenage Dick (The Public/Ma-Yi) Cruel Intentions (LPR/US Tour), Stockholm (Hudson Stage). Commercial direction/choreography: Marc Jacobs, CK2, American Express, Uber, Ulta, L’Oreal, Reebok, Philosophy, and Lifetime’s Bring It Live! Tour (2016-2018).  She is the co-creator, director, and choreographer of the annual hit holiday show, The Hip Hop Nutcracker.  jenniferwebernyc.com

EVA PRICE (Executive Producer) is a Three-time Tony Award-winning producer whose credits include over 18 Broadway plays, musicals, and concerts. She is an NYCLU/ACLU honoree for her commitment to works spearheaded by female creatives and people of color, and a Crain’s 2020 Notable LGBTQ Leaders and Executives Honoree. She is also a member of The Broadway League’s Board of Governors and recently joined the producing team at Level Forward, a new entertainment enterprise started by Killer Content and Abigail Disney to create story-driven/impact-minded properties across live, digital, and filmed platforms; focusing on work, by and for, marginalized communities. Current and notable productions include: Oklahoma! (Tony Award for Best Musical Revival); Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill (A.R.T, Broadway); Angels in America (Tony-winning Broadway Revival starring Nathan Lane and Andrew Garfield); Dear Evan Hansen (6 Tony Awards); On Your Feet! (The Story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan); Peter and the Starcatcher (5 Tony Awards); Colin Quinn Long Story Short (directed by Jerry Seinfeld); Annie (Tony-Nominated Musical Revival); The Merchant of Venice starring Al Pacino (Tony-Nominated Play Revival); Carrie Fisher’s Wishful DrinkingThe Addams Family (starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth); as well as several solo shows and critically acclaimed concerts starring  Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, The Temptations & The Four Tops; Kathy Griffin; Lewis Black; and Hershey Felder. Recent off-Broadway projects include Cruel Intentions: The ‘90s Musical (le Poisson Rouge, National Tour); the Drama Desk-nominated Found (Atlantic Theater Company & Philadelphia Theatre Company); Benjamin Scheuer’s award-winning The Lion (Drama Desk winner, Off-West End winner for Best Musical); and Bess Wohl’s critically acclaimed Small Mouth Sounds. International and Touring Credits include: The Hip Hop Nutcracker, featuring Rap Icon Kurtis Blow, as well as The Magic School Bus, Live!: The Climate Challenge; Ella, a bio-musical about the life and music of Ella Fitzgerald; ’S Wonderful: The New Gershwin Musical; Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona The Musical, Irving Berlin’s I Love A Piano (National Tour and Japan), The Great American Trailer Park Musical; Private Jokes, Public Places (London). For five years Eva worked as an assignment editor and coordinating producer for special projects at ABC News, spending her last year producing and reporting on stories relating to Broadway for ABCNEWS.COM.  

MIKE FITELSON (Writer/Co-Creator) is the executive producer at the United Palace, the 89-year-old Wonder Theatre in Washington Heights, Manhattan’s 4th largest theatre. Previously as the executive director of the United Palace of Cultural Arts (UPCA) he co-created “The Hip Hop Nutcracker” with Jennifer Weber, adapting the story and supplying the images for the scenery, and produced its premiere. Fitelson has worked to build the Northern Manhattan arts community for 17 years. He co-founded the annual arts festival, the Uptown Arts Stroll, in 2003; served in every capacity of the Manhattan Times, the bilingual community newspaper of Washington Heights and Inwood, from 2002-2011; and helped found the nonprofit Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance in 2006.  

KURTIS BLOW (Guest MC) A hip-hop legend, Kurtis Blow was 20 in 1979, when he became the first rapper to be signed by a major label. Mercury released “Christmas Rappin’,” and it sold more than 400,000 copies, becoming an annual classic. Its gold follow-up, The Breaks, helped ignite an international “Rap Attack.” He released 10 albums in over 11 years: his full-length debut, Kurtis Blow; his second, Deuce, a Top 50 Pop album, and a big hit across Europe; Party Time featuring a pioneering fusion of rap and gogo; and Ego Trip, including the hits “8 Million Stories,” “AJ” and “Basketball.” In 1985 he released America, featuring “If I Ruled the World,” a Top 5 hit on Billboard’s R&B chart; Columbia/Sony recording artist Nas debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Pop Album chart with a cover of the song in 1997. For more information, visit KurtisBlow.com.    

NJPAC New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located in downtown Newark, N.J., is America’s most diverse performing arts center, and the artistic, cultural, educational, and civic center of New Jersey – where great performances and events enhance and transform lives every day. NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all and showcasing the state’s and the world’s best artists while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its home city. Through its extensive Arts Education programs, NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts. NJPAC has attracted nearly 10 million visitors (including over 1.7 million children) since opening its doors in 1997, and nurtures meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents. 

The Kimmel Cultural Campus  - Located in the heart of Center City, Philadelphia, our mission is to engage the region’s diverse communities with art through performance and education. Our Cultural Campus serves more than one million guests per year and includes the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the Academy of Music, and the Merriam Theater- representing more than 160 years of rich history for the performing arts along Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts. We are home to eight esteemed Resident Companies: The Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Ballet, The Philly POPS, PHILADANCO, The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and Curtis Institute of Music. With 9,000 seats per night across our nine events venues, we are the region’s most impactful performing arts center and the second largest in the country. Our Cultural Campus serves as a preeminent and inclusive place to enjoy exceptional experiences that reflect the spirit of our region by cultivating a creative and socially responsible environment where our community shares experiences that are delivered with pride, integrity, and respect. As a 501 c 3 nonprofit organization, we collaborate, present, and produce a broad range of relevant and meaningful events, we serve as an active gathering space for social and community events, we educate the region’s young people through access to quality arts experiences, and we provide support to artists in the creation of new work.  For additional information, visit www.kimmelcenter.org   

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