.Preview: Tandy Beal is Back with ‘Joy!’

Tandy Beal says that she has a new word to go with her new show, Joy!: Wow.

The idea is that the “wow” will incite the joy. Beal, Santa Cruz’s renowned choreographer and the creator of the popular annual Nutcracker update Nutz RE-Mixed, is taking a brief hiatus from her Nutcracker-inspired performances to introduce Joy!, which is a reunion of Cirque du Soleil soloists Jeff Raz and Diane Wasnak (aka Pino and Razz).

The show promises to be as dynamic and colorful as Beal is. As she shifts around in her chair, visibly thrilled about her friends’ reunion, she says that the combination of elegant dance and clown comedy will create community through laughter.

“They are world-class in their ability to make you laugh, oh my god,” she says—and then pauses, her voice lowering to a simmer. “When somebody laughs, our troubles are gone away for a moment and we feel open, and that might inspire a moment’s more kindness.”

Having starred in both the Pickle Family Circus and on Broadway, the multi-talented Raz and Wasnak are likely the best “clowns” you will ever see. The show will also feature familiar faces like Natasha Kaluza (a.k.a the Super Duper Hula Hooper) and her 50 hoops, as well as new talent—two Mongolian contortionists and an Ethiopian foot juggler.

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Santa Cruz has been without a Tandy Beal & Company production for over a year now, since last year’s Nutz RE-Mixed was only performed in San Jose. Beal is a long time Santa Cruzan, and the debut of Joy! is an overdue homecoming. Unlike her past contemporary Nutcracker performances, it won’t follow a storyline. It’s a series of short acts set to live a cappella “Candy Land” inspired tunes from Oakland’s SoVoSó in what Beal calls a “platter of beautiful hors d’oeuvres” to amuse all entertainment palates.

“Oh that’s great, look at the color on that one. Oh, that one is sour. Where did that salty lemony thing come from?” she says, gesturing to an invisible array of snacks. “It’s to amuse your mouth,” she says, smacking her lips.

But don’t say goodbye to the Sugar Plum Fairy just yet. Beal has been doing alternative Nutcracker performances for more than 30 years, and she certainly hasn’t given them up. Nutz RE-Mixed will return next year, she says. In the meantime, Beal promises to pay homage to Nutz RE-Mixed in Joy!, just so you won’t lose your taste for the classics.

“The older I get, the more I realize that laughter is a divine gift,” Beal says as she floats out of the room. “Wonder is something that adults lose, and that’s a terrible loss.”

To bring a bit more curiosity and wonder, Tandy Beal & Company is incorporating a children’s program and raffle in partnership with Santa Cruz public schools, encouraging children to write what brings them joy. They are also co-hosting a coloring contest with the Downtown Association. The children’s artwork and writing will be on display at the show.

“Joy is a great word because we really need it. Laughter can lift up our hearts, and that’s my point,” Beal says. “When you laugh with somebody else, you are a community.”

‘Joy!’ begins Nov. 24-26 at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, 307 Church St., Santa Cruz. $12.25-$55.50, and Dec. 1-3 in at the San Jose Hammer Theatre Center, 101 Paseo De San Antonio, San Jose. $17-$47. For tickets or more information, visit tandybeal.com/joy.


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