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Gaslight Anthem Rockers Reinvent Classic Holiday Ballet In THE NUTCRACKER ROCKS!

Gaslight Anthem Rockers Reinvent Classic Holiday Ballet In THE NUTCRACKER ROCKS!

The Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater [AXCBT] presents a new holiday tradition, "The Nutcracker ROCKS" with a Jersey Shore rock-and-roll twist that reinvents this holiday favorite.

Running six performances the weekend of Dec. 20 at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center, "The Nutcracker ROCKS" is the brainchild of AXCBT Director and Choreographer Gabriel Chajnik, who invited Alex Rosamilia and Alex Levine of The Gaslight Anthem, along with their production partner Wes Kleinknecht, to reimagine Tchaikovsky's beloved "Nutcracker" score for a new "Jersey" generation.

In the New Jersey version, written by Julliard-trained actor and librettist Reuben Jackson, a bored Clara must endure her family's posh holiday party on the Upper East Side until her eccentric Uncle Drosselmeyer arrives. Played by Asbury Park singer-songwriter Matteo DeBenedetti, Drosselmeyer shows up with his untraditional (rock!) music, magical toys, and a special gift for Clara-a Nutcracker holding an electric guitar.

Drosselmeyer then transports Clara to a magic land-the Jersey Shore -where the "Land of Sweets" takes place at none other than Van Holten's Sweet Shop on the Seaside boardwalk. For the youngsters (and other chocolate lovers) coming to the show, Van Holten's Sweet Shop has crafted a special candy in honor of the performance, which will be sold in the lobby during the performances.

"'The Nutcracker ROCKS' is an exciting original collaboration of Jersey Shore talent," explains Chajnik. The original Tchaikovsky score was recorded by the MidAtlantic Symphony orchestra in Ocean Grove's Great Auditorium conducted by Maestro Jason Tramm while the overlying rock element was composed and arranged by X Squared Productions, comprised of Rosamilia, Levine and Kleinknecht whose popular rock band, The Gaslight Anthem, originated in New Brunswick.

"The Jersey Shore is known around the world for rock and roll, and now, with the help of these local collaborators, we've created a one-of-a-kind Jersey 'Nutcracker' that will become a new staple in the Garden State," continues Chajnik. "Lincoln Center may have 'The Nutcracker,' but the Jersey Shore now has 'The Nutcracker ROCKS.'"

Other Jersey Shore contributors include associate choreographers Dylan Pearce from Point Pleasant, choreographer; Jolene Baldini, a former Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet dancer, and Melanie Kramer, director of FPAC Dance. Pearce, whose credits include assistant choreographer for the "Radio City Christmas Spectacular," choreographed the exciting battle scene features over 60 students including dancers from Howell High School. Other collaborators include costume designer Jose Solis and scenic designer Fred Sorrentino.

"The Nutcracker ROCKS" can be seen from Dec. 20-22 at the Axelrod PAC, located in the Deal Park section of Ocean Township. Tickets can be purchased at and range from $48 to $54 with special discounts for seniors and students. Group rates are available for parties of ten or more. The theater, which is located at 100 Grant Avenue in Deal Park, NJ, is handicap accessible and provides free, ample parking onsite.

For more information on "The Nutcracker ROCKS," visit

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