Oh, the magic of it all. Living dolls. The Sugar Plum Fairy. The Snow Queen. Worldly dancers. It’s The Nutcracker, in all its magic, beauty, and holiday charm. With music by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky performed live with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and stunning costume design by Bjorn Winnbald, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux’s production has something to delight every family member. It’s not everyday you have a chance to create a new tradition, a custom, of enjoying performing arts, but The North Carolina Dance Theatre has found a regular in their spectacular production. There are few things that personify Christmas like The Nutcracker and I can’t wait to share that experience with my family for years to come.
Generations of audiences have enjoyed this Christmas favorite, a charming tale of holiday adventure that follows Clara, a young girl who receives the gift of a nutcracker soldier from her mysterious godfather. During the night, magical events unfold: the Christmas tree grows taller, toy soldiers and little mice become larger, and Clara’s nutcracker comes to life. He battles the Mouse King, ultimately saving Clara’s life. Together, they are transported to the glittering land of Snow, where they are greeted by the Snow Queen and King, and to the Land of Sweets, where they are greeted by tiny Angels, the majestic Sugar Plum Fairy, and the Sweets of the Kingdom.
In the opening act, the audience was mesmerized by the party scene at the Tannenbaum’s home. The party cast managed to captivate audience members with colorful expressions and cutesy scenarios. Particularly remarkable were the living dolls who delighted all with their precision and grace. The elaborate incorporation of children captivated the attention of all audience members; even males couldn’t help but smile at the tiny angels carrying candles or the entertaining escapade of tiny dancing mice.
The opening scene of Act 2 was highlighted by excellent choreography and stunning costuming. Coffee, performed by Melissa Anduiza and Pete Walker, were especially entertaining and obviously well-rehearsed, but the most remarkable performance was the Snow Queen, flawlessly danced by Jamie Dee. Dee thrilled the audience with a series of breathtaking moves. Her control, precision, and grace represented all that is beautiful about the ballet. I felt a lump in my throat as I imagined my daughter, Athena, leaping across the stage in a dream-like costume like the Snow Queen.
We celebrated the season with a cast of hundreds as they took us on a magical journey to mystical lands. This family-friendly and affordable production is the Christmas gift that keeps on giving. Visions of Sugar Plums will be dancing in my head to Tchaikovsky the whole season. It just wouldn’t be the holidays without The Nutcracker.