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Home » News » Theatre Alum Creates Magic on Stage for the Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker

Theatre Alum Creates Magic on Stage for the Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker

Published December 3, 2021

Photo by Dave Smith

Dave Smith (‘08) has been using his MFA in Technical Production to orchestrate massive and marvelous feats onstage, most recently with automations and projections for the Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C. (2019) and the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta (December 4-29, 2021).

Tchaikovsky’s story of a young girl’s enchanting Christmas Eve journey with a toy soldier into the myriad, miniature worlds of candy has always played with scale and perspective, but Smith’s production mechanizes a 31-foot-tall cabinet, a one-ton gold-engraved storybook, a rotating sky-map ceiling, and more. Not only does Smith ensure quality constructions to make such magic happen, but he also helps coordinate around 300 cues that keep action seamless and actors safe. As Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Cynthia Perry writes, “Anything that happens onstage, except for Possokov’s choreography, falls under [Smith’s] control.”

After three weeks of preparation with his crew at the Mable House Amphitheatre in Mableton, Georgia and contending with supply chain difficulties, Smith voiced his eagerness to deliver the state-of-the-art production to audiences:

[The applause] is like having 2,600 bosses say you did a good job. That, to me, does it. And I’m good. It was worth it.

Like a backstage Uncle Drosselmeier, Smith’s technical wizardry and imaginative drive to innovate will no doubt continue to shine on stages beyond this holiday season. More information about the December 2021 run of the Atlanta Ballet Theatre’s Nutcracker can be found at  To read more about the production and Dave’s experience, please read the full article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution here.