Lighting Designer Michael Clark Wonson
spent about a month earlier this year studying Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker
. Each night he would watch the official DVD of the highly regarded ballet dance performance, a mug of hot chocolate in hand. He studied dancers’ movements as well as the core choreography to prepare for his role as lighting designer for the east coast leg of the critically-acclaimed show. By the time the 2011 tour began in late November, Michael was more than ready.
“[I am] on my ‘A game’ all the time,” he says.
An award-winning lighting designer, Michael has worked with theater and dance troupes across Massachusetts, New York City, New Hampshire, and Dallas TX, which, in addition to Moscow Ballet, includes Boston Theatre Works, Boston Ballet Company, Manhattan Theatre Source, Dallas Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, and more. He notes that dance troupes are especially great to be involved with, namely those featured in Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker.
“Working with a full troupe of dancers is any lighting designer’s dream,” Michael says. “These [Moscow Ballet] dancers are trained within an inch of their life. The lines which I see onstage every night are so clean and beautiful.”
Michael came on board earlier this year for the 19th annual tour of Moscow Ballet’s critically acclaimed Great Russian Nutcracker, bringing with him new ideas that would complement the beloved show’s traditions.
“My goal with this  production was to maintain the classical elements of ballet and to continue to modernize the vision [of Moscow Ballet],” he says.
According to Michael, he added LED lights to the show “to make the [hand-painted back]drops ‘pop.’” He also added a vibrant moon to the Arabian variation scene in Act II and a pale moon-colored window for the final scene as the grand drape falls, as well as lighting on the sides of the stage that allowed audiences to see how chiseled the human form can look—all while also making sure to incorporate traditional theatrical caveats.
Michael is proud to be working with Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker, bringing “holiday spirit and magic to thousands of people every night” of the tour.
“Inherently, this show stands out above all other productions. [I know] the magic we are bringing to the hearts of many,” he says. “It is a show which builds memories for families.”