Audiences viewing Long Beach Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker can look forward to witnessing new special effects, thanks to the work of people within the College of Engineering at Long Beach State University.

“Adding this sophistication to it is going to make it a mind-blowing magic trick,” said David Wilcox, artistic director of the Long Beach Ballet.

Long Beach State University College of Engineering alumna April Walsh and Christiane Beyer, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, working on the special effects box for “The Nutcracker.”
Photo credit: Long Beach State University Public Affairs

The college provided a special remote-controlled box for the show. The device is seven feet long along each edge, incorporates 3D-printed components and weighs some 1,000 pounds. It is designed to roll across the stage, produce smoke effects and allow performers to take part in a dramatic illusion during a key moment of the ballet.

“Seeing this project come to life, knowing the countless hours of hard work from students, faculty, and technicians, it’s fantastic to see it performing on stage,” said Christiane Beyer, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

The box’s makers devoted their efforts over the course of about four years to prepare the device for the stage.

“This is the first year it’s going to be on stage, and it’s very exciting,” said College of Engineering alumna April Walsh, who played a lead role in the project. “I’m sure everyone else feels that way too.”

Long Beach Ballet’s 2018 performances of The Nutcracker are scheduled to begin on Saturday, December 15.

Photo (above): Students, faculty, and technicians at Long Beach State University’s College of Engineering designed this special effects box for Long Beach Ballet’s performance of “The Nutcracker.”