Nutcracker Costumes at the Upcountry History Museum

On a recent trip to Greenville, SC, I managed to squeeze in a visit to the region’s regional history museum, the Upcountry History Museum. I’ll be writing about that museum’s permanent exhibitions later on. Today we’ll just look at some spectacular costumes.

The Upcountry History Museum hosts a lot of exhibitions with artifacts from other museums. This one incorporates artifacts from ”Walt Disney Archives, The Walt Disney Family Museum, Charles M. Schulz Museum, artists James Ransome and Maurice Sendak, private collectors, and the Carolina Ballet Theatre” though the majority of the objects are from a 2018 Disney film, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. I haven’t seen the movie, but according to reviews, it was a bit of a disappointment, with not enough dancing and not enough Tchaikovsky. The costumes were praised, however, for having just the right touch of fantasy.

That’s not surprising, since the designer was Jenny Beavan. Jenny has been designing for decades, having won three Academy Awards for best design, including my favorite, A Room with a View. She’s up this year for Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris.

The naming of the costumes confused me, partly because I had not seen the movie, but also because such creative license was taken with the original story and the characters. No matter, these men’s suits were spectacular.

If you know the Nutcracker story, then you know Clara is the main character. I did see the relationship here, along with the costume of the Nutcracker/Captain Hoffman.

I think part of the disappointment with the movie must have come from the fact that Misty Copeland played the ballerina, and there just wasn’t enough of her onscreen to satisfy ballet fans.

A plus to the exhibition was that they included the original movie posters showing most of the costumes displayed on the actors who portrayed them.

Here’s another beautiful Clara costume, as played by Mackenzie Foy.

The show notes talked about Victorian fashion references, but I didn’t see that at all. If anything, Clara’s dress references Regency dress, while most of the men’s costumes look wildly late eighteenth century. No matter. This is a fantasy after all.

As a counterpoint to the Disney costumes, the curators included more traditional Nutcracker costumes from the Carolina Ballet Theatre. Interestingly, I saw a poster of a ballerina wearing this dress. Why I didn’t snap a photo I’ll never know.

There were more Disney artifacts, including a really nice display of background scenes from the Nutcracker sequence in Fastasia. There were other artist renderings of the story as well. And the finale was a display case full of one family’s collection of nutcrackers.

Most of the objects are behind glass, but that didn’t seem to distract from the quality of the display. The glare was minimized, and even the photos turned out alright.

6 Comments

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6 responses to “Nutcracker Costumes at the Upcountry History Museum

  1. Bonnie Groves Poppe

    Spectacular!
    bonnie in provence

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well I really wish I could’ve joined you! At very least I could’ve supplied the soundtrack. The white tutu looks like one I “stole” (long story) from the Pennsylvania ballet in the early 80s. Still have it, of course. It was from Giselle, but when I wore it in an unrelated performance, the choreographer removed the wings (much to the disappointment of the dancers).

    Like

  3. jacq.staubss@yahoo.com

    Thank YOU BOTH for this wonderful Podcast XO Jacq

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Spinsjal

    I had never heard of the movie until I saw this smashing exhibit. The costumes are just grand! (I still haven’t seen the movie.)

    Liked by 1 person

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