In a break from the plethora of Christmas celebrations this winter, the MeshugaNutcracker! honors the holiday of Chanukah with Christmas music for Jews and non-Jews to enjoy.
Shannon Guggenheim, producer of MeshugaNutcracker! former owner of the now-closed Reto Dome, said the musical, since 2003, focuses on a universal message of hope and miracles, illustrated in the Jewish tradition of Chanukah to the music of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker. Guggenheim said the musical brings balance to holiday celebrations. When it seems that “everyone” is celebrating Christmas, and a Jewish child asks “what’s for me?” He too will have a way to celebrate within his culture, she added.
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Chanukah, also known as the festival of lights, is an eight-day celebration of the re-dedication of the Holy Temple. Guggenheim noted that MeshugaNutcracker! is a learning experience for those who are not well-versed in Jewish culture. The cast throughout the performance explains different traditions, such as the blessings over the eight candles, the dreidel and menorah.
“It’s not preachy and a lot of it is about the community learning about the culture,” Guggenheim says. However, she added for the “super Jews it’s a fun experience to see your people and your stories be told on a stage. Jews have been going to Christmas shows for decades and when it comes to your own culture being represented, it’s fun to see with your parents and your kids and identify with your people.”
Though the show tackles important subjects such as the holocaust, Guggenheim said the upbeat songs, witty lines and brightly colored costumes release some of the tension of the serious moments. She said the music and design to engage children do not take away from the adult experience, as the wit of the lyrics and inside jokes are meant to engage adults.
Guggenheim said she is fundraising in hopes of MeshugaNutcracker! to be in New York next year.
MeshugaNutcracker! will be at the Heritage Theater in Campbell Dec. 25 to Dec .28. More info.