Maurice Sendak, creative force behind PNB's 'Nutcracker,' dies



Posted on May 8, 2012 at 8:51 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 7:57 PM

SEATTLE – The man who brought children delight with his book “Where the Wild Things Are” and one of the designing forces behind Pacific Northwest Ballet’s beloved “Nutcracker" has died.

Maurice Sendak died early Tuesday in Danbury, Conn. at age 83, four days after suffering a stroke

When approached by PNB  to stage a brand new "Nutcracker," Sendak paused.

"We sat down to lunch and he said "I'm not even sure I like ballet!" recalled then-artistic director Kent Stowell. "And I said, "It doesn't matter. It's about doing something really interesting that's worthwhile."

The Sendak "Nutcracker" debuted in 1983, bringing the author/illustrator's daring and often dark vision to the stage.

Working with Sendak was collegial. Lighting designer Rico Chiarelli says Sendak didn't hesitate to get in the thick of things and work with the scenery crews, costumers and prop designers.

"He was a joy to work with. He was sort of an anti-celebrity. He was suspicious of people who were celebrities and he certainly didn't want to be one himself,"  said Chiarelli.


Stowell smiles as he recalls how Sendak often ruminated on his own demise.

 "At that time, he says, "Now I must warn you, I've had a heart attack and I might not even make it through this process!  I said, "We'll get you through it. Of course he said that to everybody, every year since 30 years ago!"


This season's "Nutcracker" will mark the 30th anniversary of Sendak's collaboration with Pacific Northwest Ballet. 

Read more about Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Nutcracker” here