Theatre Review: The Nutcracker

nutcracker

Composer: Tchaikovsky

Dance Company: Bay Pointe Ballet (with local help)

You don’t get much more Christmas-y than The Nutcracker. Tchaikovsky’s timeless classic is probably one of the best-known ballets (Swan Lake being the only real competition for that title). Its music is probably better known for countless car commercials (especially the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies).

Even without any dialogue, the plot is easier to follow than half the new shows from this fall. During a Christmas party, Clara gets the gift of a nutcracker from a toymaker/magician. At night, after the guests have left, she sneaks downstairs to play with her new toy and falls asleep. She dreams that the nutcracker comes to life and fights the Rat King. With her help, he defeats him, as a reward for her assistance, he takes her to his court. At court, dancers from around the world entertain her.

What struck me was how incredibly difficult this production truly is. It had 12 principals/soloists, and frankly needed a few more (at least another Chinese acrobat and a couple more Russian dancers). I would think any company would be hard-pressed to find 15 top-notch dancers because I would expect any dancer good enough would seek opportunities to be a principal elsewhere. The Bay Pointe Ballet (San Francisco) had some help from the local Reno ballet school, including Clara, who was very good, in my very novice opinion.

Even to a layperson like me, it was easy to spot errors (particularly in synchronization, but only a monster would point out that “flaw” amongst the small children that were part of the show). I also saw one dancer land short on one of those jump-spinney things (sorry to get all technical), and I almost thought he rolled his ankle, but he continued. I would have preferred a live orchestra instead of piped-in music (go ahead and ask me how I feel about piped-in music at college football games when they have bands). I also didn’t like the increased role of Fritz, Clara’s brother.

On the positive side, they had a nice addition of a female servant getting drunk and “stumbling” during a dance – it was well-done. All the soloists were very good, even if the solos were a bit short (especially the Chinese Acrobats that didn’t do a whole lot of acrobat-ing, and only one Russian dancer, who is always a crowd pleaser).

This was a small production, from the randomly changing fonts in the program, to the random old man introducing the ballet. This is probably as small a company as I would want to see put on the The Nutcracker, given how many high-quality dancers you need to put on this show. If you have access to a renowned ballet company, I would recommend going to see The Nutcracker at least once. I would especially recommend it to children, particularly children that, say, like to figure skate.

WWYT Rating: 7.0

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