Dragons, juggling, ballet and tacos combine in ‘Dragons Love Tacos’

Aleksandr Schroeder leaps in NCT's "Dragons Love Tacos."

Aleksandr Schroeder leaps in NCT's "Dragons Love Tacos." Photo by Michael Scott Evans.

Dragons Love Tacos - Book CoverIn its first collaboration with Nashville Ballet, Nashville Children’s Theatre, the nation’s oldest professional theatre for young audiences, presents a bouncing, juggling and flying adaptation of the best-selling children’s book Dragons Love Tacos starting April 12.

Written by Adam Rubin with illustrations by Daniel Salmieri, Dragons Love Tacos has been on the New York Times Best Sellers list for more than 210 weeks. Now, the hilarious story of dragons’ immense love for “pantloads of tacos” and the disastrous consequences wrought by spicy salsa, springs on stage as a non-stop romp of circus tricks, dancing dragons and innumerable tacos. Adapted and directed by NCT’s Executive Artistic Director Ernie Nolan, Dragons Love Tacos features choreography by Nashville Ballet’s CEO and Artistic Director Paul Vasterling, scenic design by Scott Leathers and Rachael Silverman, lighting design by Scott Leathers, costume design by Patricia Taber, sound design by Kyle Odum, projection design by Colin Peterson and, yes, circus skills consulting from Jacob Weiss.

“The book Dragons Love Tacos is delightfully playful, loved by both children and parents,” said Nolan. “When reading the book, it’s impossible not to imagine the riotous fun of a party full of dragons. The more you imagine that party and its lively nature, the more you realize it’s a party everyone should enjoy, and NCT’s stage is the perfect place to host this party. We could not have found a better collaboration partner for this project than Nashville Ballet. Of course their stunningly skilled and beautifully dynamic dancers would perfectly represent our spirited dragons. Paul Vasterling was enthusiastic and supportive from the start, plus it’s incredibly flattering that he created choreography specifically for Dragons Love Tacos. I cannot wait for audiences to join our party!”

David Torres-Fuentes in NCT's "Dragons Love Tacos."

David Torres-Fuentes in NCT’s “Dragons Love Tacos.” Photo by Michael Scott Evans.

NCT’s cast includes James Rudolph, David Torres-Fuentes, and Mik Phill. Playing the necessary dragons are artists of Nashville Ballet 2: Aleksandr Schroeder, Talbot Rue, Skyler Levine, Manuela Lavalle, Emilia Sandoval, Addison Goodwin, JonPaul Hills, Ashleigh Sewell, and Molly Yeo. Dancers will alternate performance dates.

“When the opportunity arose to work with Ernie Nolan on Dragons Love Tacos, I first thought of how perfectly such a project aligns with Nashville Ballet’s mission,” said Vasterling. “We’re deeply dedicated to promoting dance as an essential element of our community, and collaborating with other artists and arts organizations is one of the best, most effective ways in which we can cultivate a deep and meaningful place for dance in the hearts of those around us. Dragons Love Tacos is a lighthearted, fun way to reach our youngest audiences. It’s also a very smart and witty story, and Ernie’s adaptation for the stage is marvelous. I’ve had so much fun working on it!”

Dragons Love Tacos opens on Thursday, April 12, at 6:30 pm. Weekend performances are at 2 p.m. from Saturday, April 14, to Sunday, May 13. There is no performance on Sunday, April 15. NCT also provides a Sensory Friendly Performance on Saturday, May 5, and an American Sign Language-Interpreted performance on Sunday, May 6. All performances are at The Martin Center for Nashville Children’s Theatre, 25 Middleton St., in Nashville.

For tickets, call 615-252-4675 or visit NashvilleCT.org.