Wednesday, November 30, 2022




WHEN: opens on December 2, at 7:00 p.m. and runs over two weekends with ten total performances ending on Sunday, December 11. 
WHERE: Axelrod Performing Arts Center, 100 Grant Ave., Deal Park
TICKETSrange from $32 to 46, with student tickets available for $20
Tickets are available online at or by calling 732.531.9106, extension 14. Special rates are available for groups of ten or more.

Josh Canfield, actor and former CBS Survivor contestant will reprise his role as Clara’s eccentric rocker Uncle Drosselmeyer in Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater (AXCBT)’s THE NUTCRACKER ROCKS! Canfield has appeared on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and at A.R.T., in productions including the Tony Award-winning production of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812Doctor Zhivago and the touring Broadway production of Falsettos.

“I’m thrilled to be back as ‘Uncle Dross’ in The Nutcracker Rocks! I was fortunate to be able to take on this role last year, and can’t wait to share this inventive, creative and modern take on the Nutcracker with new audiences at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center,” said Canfield. “I think I’m most looking forward to working with the incredible ballet company. We had so much fun last year putting the show together and can’t wait to dance, act and sing alongside them again. This company and production are truly special!” 

AXCBT, Monmouth County’s only professional ballet company, will perform in the Vogel Auditorium at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center with The Nutcracker Rocks beginning on December 2. The ballet is conceived, choreographed, and directed by AXCBT Artistic Director Gabriel Chajnik, who reinvents this holiday favorite with a high-octane, rock-and-roll Jersey Shore twist.

The Nutcracker ROCKS is an exciting original collaboration of Jersey Shore talent,” explains Chajnik. “Lincoln Center may have ‘The Nutcracker,’ but the Jersey Shore now has The Nutcracker ROCKS.”

For the production, Chajnik invited Alex Levine and Alex Rosamilia, two members of the popular New Jersey rock band, The Gaslight Anthem, and their production partner Wes Klienknecht to reimagine Tchaikovsky’s beloved “Nutcracker” score for a new generation of rock and theater lovers. The original Tchaikovsky score was recorded by the MidAtlantic Symphony orchestra in Ocean Grove’s Great Auditorium, conducted by Maestro Jason Tramm, while the overlying rock element was composed and arranged by X Squared Productions, comprised of Rosamilia, Levine, and Klienknecht. The book is by Juilliard-trained actor and librettist Reuben Jackson with additions by writer-actor Jason Cohen. Associate Choreographer includes Dylan Pearce from Point Pleasant, whose credits include assistant choreographer for the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular.”

The Nutcracker ROCKS at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center

  • Friday, December 2, 7:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 3 at 2:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 3 at 7:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 4 at 1:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 4 at 5:00 p.m.
  • Friday, December 9, 7:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 10 at 2:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 10 at 7:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 11 at 1:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 11 at 5:00 p.m.

The Nutcracker ROCKS follows a bored, teen Clara, who must endure her family’s posh holiday party on the Upper East Side until her eccentric Uncle Drosselmeyer arrives. Uncle Drosselmeyer shakes things up at the distinguished Manhattan party when he shows up transporting Clara to a magic land—the Jersey Shore—where the traditional Land of Sweets is instead a candy shop in Asbury Park.

The cast is comprised of AXCBT company members and students (ages 7+) from local dance studios who attended a Nutcracker ROCKS Intensive with Chajnik and the dancers of AXCBT.

“I am thrilled to see the return of The Nutcracker ROCKS! Of all of Gabriel’s enchanting works, it is one of my favorites because of the magical holiday memories it evokes,” said Elise Feldman, president of the Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater. “Seeing the young dancers’ gracing the stage is a testament to the growth of the Axelrod Performing Arts Academy and its mission to ‘inspire and strengthen young dancers’ minds and bodies.’ We are proud to collaborate with local dance studios including Dance for Joy and Gotta Dance, providing these young, gifted dancers an opportunity to perform with AXCBT’s professional dancers on a world class stage at APAC.”

Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater (AXCBT) strives to cultivate an environment rooted in diversity, inspiration, encouragement, and equality where all are welcome and heard. Listening and learning is at the heart of our commitments to change policies, attitudes, and habits that do not align with our core values.  Gabriel Chajnik has assembled a community of skilled artists, each unique and necessary to the growth of AXCBT and its audience. AXCBT prides itself on its perseverance through the challenges of 2020 and the company’s continuation of dance education. Mr. Chajnik and his dancers aim to expand creativity and appreciation for the arts throughout New Jersey, inviting patrons, students, and artists to join them on this gratifying endeavor.

The Axelrod Performing Arts Center produces its own professionally staged musicals and ballets for the Jersey Shore in collaboration with Broadway directors, choreographers, and designers, showcasing professional actors, dancers and singers. The Axelrod Performing Arts Center fosters artistic excellence by showcasing varied and distinct cultural programs which enrich the imaginative, intellectual and creative soul, inspire Jewish journeys, and cultivate an appreciation of our diverse communities through the pursuit of the arts. A 501c3 organization, funding support for the Axelrod PAC comes from individuals, foundations, and grants that enable the arts center to present year-round events and programming. We want to thank our patrons and donors who support the Axelrod Performing Arts Center annually.

AXCBT Artistic Director Gabriel Chajnik received undergraduate dance training at The Julliard School studying under legendary instructor, mentor, and Juilliard faculty emeritus Maestro Héctor Zaraspe. Mr. Chajnik’s work has been featured at the Juilliard School, the Manhattan School of Music, the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C., Alice Tully Hall, the Clark Theatre at Lincoln Center, Manhattan Movement and Arts Center, and the Lambs Theatre. As an educator, he has taught various dance technique classes to notable dance schools such as Brooklyn Music School (NY), Princeton Ballet School (NJ), the Academy of Dance Arts (NJ), and Gotta Dance (NJ). Mr. Chajnik merged his two passions of choreography and education by establishing the Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theatre (AXCBT), the first professional dance company in the Monmouth County area, and the Axelrod Performing Arts Academy (APPA), both with the help of Axelrod Performing Arts Center’s President Elise Feldman. Mr. Chajnik has been honored by the Jewish Federation of Somerset, Hunterdon, & Warren Counties. In September 2021, Monmouth Arts honored Gabriel for his work in the community during the pandemic.