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
Sendak teamed with PNB founding Artistic Director and Choreographer Kent Stowell in 1983 on Nutcracker, according to the PNB website. Sendak designed the sets and costumes.
The ballet drew on E.T.A. Hoffman s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Sendak illustrated a 1984 edition of the original story, which ended up on the New York Times bestseller list for eight weeks.
PNB s Nutcracker has been performed every season for the past 28 years. This season, it will run Dec. 7 -29. A feature-length film was made in 1986 and released nationwide.
But Sendak wasn t initially thrilled with the idea about designing for Nutcracker. Here is a 1984 quote from the PNB website.
My immediate reaction to the request that I design Nutcracker was negative. I was flattered, but my reasons for saying no were plentiful. To begin with, who in the world needed another Nutcracker? ....Of course I did it. We did it together. Most of my doubts and worries were put to rest when Kent and I met for the first time early in 1981 in New York City. I liked him immediately for not wanting me to do Nutcracker for all the obvious reasons but rather because he wished me to join him in a leap into the unknown. He suggested we abandon the predictable Nutcracker and find a fresh version that did honor to Hoffman, Tchaikovsky, and ourselves. Later that year, Kent invited me to Seattle to see the company's old Nutcracker. By then I had fallen in love with the project and after that Christmas of 1981, I set to work in earnest.