I wasn't ready to speak about my last experience on stage as Dross yesterday directly after the performance, but I am ready now. I will start by saying how thankful I am that I was given such an opportunity to play the role of my childhood dreams. I had the chance to thank my Ballet Master to whom I had first expressed interest in the role after the show for giving me the part, and I felt that it brought closure to the whole deal. He after all, is the caretaker of Todd Bolender's production of "The Nutcracker." He was the closest to the creator himself.
Even before I stepped on stage as Drosselmeyer yesterday, there was something special in the air. I put on my makeup while looking at the picture that I use as a guide (of myself) from my first Dross. In the picture I look so excited yet calm, and that is how I felt until the last moment. My dressing room mates and other dancers were kind to ask me how I was doing from time to time. It hadn't completely hit me yet.
Every detail of my preparation for Dross was special. Preparing my magic tricks, presetting my props, making sure my pyro-technics were loaded and ready to fire-it all was slow and meticulously handled with the most care ever. My first entrance felt calm and wonderful. During the party scene, I made sure that I was aware of every movement I made. I still acted from the heart and made sure things were naturally played, but I remember every second of that party. From scolding Fritz for breaking the Nutcracker all the way to pretending to straighten the photographs on the back-drop (something the majority of the audience would probably never know I did,) I made sure that I took every detail in.
The first time I began to tear up was during the scene where Drosselmeyer quietly takes the Nutcracker from a sleeping Clara's arms and repairs it. When I looked down at Clara, I was overtaken with the emotion of how much joy it brought me to live as that character and guard over that little girl. I've probably had about 16 people play that role with me over the years, but this time it meant even more than usual. I felt what I can only imagine it would feel to really take care of a child of ones own.
The transformation/tree growing scene felt powerful and elaborate. When it came time for me to make my final entrance is when I really lost it. In this production, Dross masks the "Prince" with his cape as he makes his way behind the bed to become the Nutcracker. In that moment, I realized it would be the last time that I would be seen on stage in Kansas City as that role. Through my tears, I made myself see as much as I could of the scene and beyond. I registered the exit lights in the audience. I took as much in as I could. It was the last time I would hold that power.
In our production, Dross doesn't get a curtain call. However, this time, they allowed me to take a solo bow. I did it in true Matthew fashion-with fire flashing from my hand and everything!
When the curtain finally fell, I was overwhelmed by the support of my coworkers as they gathered around me to hug me and say "Congratulations." They were so kind and amazing to me.
I know that it is time to move on, but I still haven't completely registered that Dross is over. It seems like yesterday that I was twelve pretending to be the character. Now it's gone! I know that I leave the part in capable hands who I'm happy to say enjoyed the role. Now, as I enter into the rest of my season, I plan to do exactly as I did with this last show. I want to see everything around me. I don't want to miss a thing. Drosselmeyer may be finished in my book, but I have all the memories I need to last me the rest of my life. I am completely thankful for the experience.