Go Behind the Scenes of Graham Lustig’s “The Nutcracker”

Every December, Oakland Ballet Company dancers delight the East Bay community with performance of Graham Lustig’s The Nutcracker. When each performer dons a costume, wields a prop, or is transported to the magical Land of the Sweets via a giant hot air balloon, they are relying upon a very special group of individuals working diligently from the wings of the stage. Learn more about the important people behind the scenes who make each show possible.

Bat Abbit – Ballet Master

Bat Abbit has served as Oakland Ballet Company’s Ballet Master since 2010 – logging countless hours in and outside of the studio to ensure that performances are stage ready. Rehearsals begin about five weeks before the performances and, in the lead-up to Graham Lustig’s The Nutcracker, Bat is in the studio up to 50 hours each week setting the choreography on our professional dancers and student cast members. With his extensive knowledge of Artistic Director Graham Lustig’s choreography (Bat originated the role of Fritz in Graham Lustig’s The Nutcracker!) he guides the dancers not only through the technical steps performed onstage, but also through the artistic qualities that make this production extra special. When not rehearsing, Bat also serves as Oakland Ballet’e Education Coordinator – planning and implementing “Discover Dance” educational programs and The Academy at Oakland Ballet.


Christopher Dunn – Costume Manager

Since 2014, Oakland Ballet Company has enjoyed the gorgeous contributions of Wardrobe Manager and Costume Designer Christopher Dunn. Each December Christopher is tasked with managing more than 150 costumes for our performances of Graham Lustig’s The Nutcracker! He spends weeks fitting the colorful costumes (originally designed by Emmy and Tony award winning designer, Zach Brown) on both the professional and student dancers, updating any costumes that need a little extra sparkle, and organizing the costumes for educational and promotional events throughout the month of December. He makes sure that dressing rooms are assigned and that costumes are ready for the dancers when they arrive at the Paramount Theater for rehearsals and performances. Finally, after every performance he makes sure that costumes are mended, laundered, and ready for the next performance.

As resident Costume Designer, Christopher has created many original costumes for OBC – all combining stunning aesthetics with functionality. Growing up as a dancer in a studio owned by his mother, and currently still working as a professional dancer at Dance Theatre of San Francisco, Christopher has a first-hand understanding of how to craft a costume that is both visually appealing and makes the dancer feel comfortable and confident.

Fun fact – Christopher will also be joining the production as a Father in the Party Scene this year. Look for him on-stage this December 23 and 24!


Christine Dunaway – Production and Stage Manager

Coordinating the execution of countless technical tasks that enable a production like Graham Lustig’s The Nutcracker is a massive undertaking. Fortunately, Oakland Ballet Company can rely upon the experience and professionalism of Production and Stage Manager Chris Dunaway (Dunaway Events). Chris brings her 17 years of experience to the Paramount Theatre every December to coordinate and schedule the backstage technical crew, manage the transportation and installation of scenery and lighting equipment to the theater, and finally, to ensure that every scenery and lighting change goes off without a hitch during performances!


Amy Ferrara – Props Manager

While the costumes and sets are an integral part of every performance, few ballets rely so heavily on props as The Nutcracker. Amy Ferrara has served as Oakland Ballet Company’s Props Manager since 2010, ensuring that every present, sword, and bon bon appearing onstage is in working order and performance ready. Dancers can trust in Amy to help them execute sometimes challenging transitions involving props backstage.






Michael Morgan – Oakland Symphony Music Director and Conductor

Oakland Ballet Company is truly privileged to dance to live orchestral accompaniment by the Oakland Symphony. Michael Morgan, the Music Director and Conductor for the beloved East Bay organization, brings to each performance his impeccable timing and decades of experience. Michael and his orchestra members make Graham Lustig’s “The Nutcracker” a truly magical event with their gorgeous interpretation of the Tchaikovsky score.


Don’t miss this magical holiday event! This year’s performances of Graham Lustig’s “The Nutcracker” will be held Saturday, December 23 at 1:00 and 5:00 pm and Sunday, December 24 at 1:00. Tickets are on sale now on-line or in person at the Paramount Theatre Box Office (Wednesdays from 11-3; Thursdays from 11-3; Fridays from 11-5:30; Saturdays from 11-3).

Megan Terry as the Sugar Plum Fairy in Graham Lustig’s The Nutcracker. Photo by Dan Dion.
Damon Mahoney as Drosselmeyer. Photo by Dan Dion.

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