The Nutcrackers by Jim Boston | Script Revolution

The Nutcrackers

Pondering life after ballet and ex-dancer Vanessa Carlton's Grammy-nominated success, two star ballerinas in present-day Kansas City, MO seek to become blues musicians at a famous local bar and grill.

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128pp

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A new season for the Kansas City Ballet begins...and two of the company’s best dancers, CONCETTA “CONNY” PINAUD and SYDNEY HENDERSON, celebrate by eating pizza in the house they share in Kansas City’s Midtown Westport neighborhood.

Eventually, the question pops up: “What if we couldn’t dance anymore?”

Witty-and-confident New Yorker Sydney and clever-and-assertive Toronto Metro native Conny decide on music.

The two women relate how music played a huge role in their formative years: Conny once portrayed Amaryllis in “The Music Man” and, in the process, got to actually play an old-fashioned upright piano; Sydney enrolled at Fun City’s School of American Ballet...where she played and wrote her own songs at the same beat-up piano used by none other than SAB student-turned-Grammy nominee Vanessa Carlton.

And the two ballerinas’ experience playing Kaycee’s street pianos, where the two women had fun with Eddie Boyd’s “Five Long Years,” leads to the choice to take on blues.

Sydney and Conny put their decision to the test during a rehearsal for KCB’s first production of the campaign, “New Moves,” a show featuring all-original choreography by several artists. One of “New Moves’” segments uses Cecile Chaminade’s “Scarf Dance…” a piece troupe accompanist PIERRE LAFITTE can’t get right.

The two housemates play the selection for KCB’S THIRTEEN OTHER FEMALE DANCERS...and nail it.

The stunt initially ticks the troupe’s other women off and causes the company’s artistic director, worry wart STEPHEN SKINNER, to ask: “What were you two thinking?” But Conny’s and Sydney’s turn as accompanists helps make “New Moves” a success...and leads to party time at Victoria’s Bar and Grill, a suburban eatery/jazz-and-blues destination where the reveling hoofers hear the two buddies pound out the blues.

Sydney and Conny make such a mark at Victoria’s that the restaurant’s husband-and-wife owners, BILL and VALERIE WILLIAMSON, offer the two musical dancers a chance to perform at the venue’s “New Talent Night.”

KCB’s two blues-playing hoofers cook on piano and drums during “New Talent Night.” Result: University of Missouri-Kansas City dance instructor AVA FERNANDEZ, one of Conny’s and Sydney’s teachers when the two ballerinas attended the school, offers to join the act...as a bassist.

Now a trio, the group’s two founders announce to their fellow Kansas City Ballet members that Victoria’s will hold a Battle of the Blues Bands next May...a message that doesn’t sit well with Stephen, and on top of that, divides THE REST OF THE TROUPE in half.

Friendly, straightforward Ava excels as a singer and bassist...and even shows off her talent as a pianist and violinist, two skills from her teenage years. The trio’s chemistry attracts Ava’s playful buddy KATHLEEN MCELHENNY, who runs a recording studio in the house she and Ava share; and levelheaded LYNDA SUE AQUINO, one of Kathleen’s fellow praise band musicians in the church they attend. When Kathleen becomes the blues band’s guitarist and Texas-born Lynda Sue joins up with her own organ-piano prowess, the act crowns itself the Nutcrackers, after KCB’s signature holiday production...and brings down the house at UMKC’s Olson Performing Arts Center in the band’s first gig away from Victoria’s.

The Nutcrackers build a following that includes veteran blues guitarist FREDDIE JOHNSON and some KCB members...including the troupe’s two youngest members, self-deprecating SAVANNAH KIELY-DALTON and awestruck ROBERT SLOTKY, both of whom Sydney and Conny help guide. Still, with the blues band taking more of Conny’s and Sydney’s time, and a rumor flying that the twosome will give up dancing, Stephen issues the two stars an ultimatum: “Win the battle of the bands...you can both retire. If you lose, you’ve gotta keep dancing.”

Sydney and Conny fight to show that they can handle playing the blues as Nutcrackers and dancing in the KCB at the same time, despite the contention of troupe members LUCINDA HUANG and BEATA ESPARRAGOSA that it can’t be done. The two blues-playing buddies sail right along in both worlds...when, on the final night of a “Cinderella” where Savannah shines in the title role and Robert impresses as Prince Charming, Conny sustains injuries to both of her knees and Sydney sprains an ankle in a backstage celebration.

While Sydney and Conny fight to recover from their hurts, the rest of the Kansas City Ballet finds it doesn’t function as well without its two stars...and Ava, Kathleen, and Lynda Sue realize their band just doesn’t sound as good with Conny and Sydney absent.

The night of the Battle of the Blues Bands arrives...and it’s also the night KCB’s final production of the season, George Balanchine’s “Jewels,” wraps up. Freddie’s band and the Nutcrackers wind up to be the only acts in competition at Victoria’s...and “Jewels” running overtime threatens to hand Freddie’s unit the title by forfeit. But Sydney and Conny arrive at the suburban venue...just in time to team up with Lynda Sue, Kathleen, and Ava to give the Nutcrackers the crown.

And when logic takes over in Stephen, he cancels his ultimatum and encourages Conny and Sydney to continue their two-ply careers.

Submitted: August 1, 2021
Last Updated: October 7, 2021

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The Writer: Jim Boston

I first got interested in screenwriting as a college student in 1979 (Iowa State University); an additional impetus was the paperback version of the "American Graffiti" screenplay. From 1980 to 1994, I pursued screenwriting with a vengeance...but other things happened in my life. Since 2016, I've been back chasing the dream...and it's only because I inherited a Power Mac from one of the codirectors (Nick Holle) of a documentary I was in: "The Entertainers," about the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest and Festival. (Nick received the computer from the husband-and-wife couple who helped produce the film, Brent and Jackie Watkins.) The Power Mac has a copy of Final Draft 6... Go to bio

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