Vulcan’s Peak

Teddy bear. Hot air balloon.

December 8, 2006 12:58 am

Yes, those were the highlights of my night at the Boston Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker. There was a dancing teddy bear and Clara flew out in a hot air balloon!

I almost had tall-person-in-front-of-me problems, but the seat next to me was empty, so I helped myself and had a great view! There was one back corner I couldn’t see because I was so far to the side, but that’s what I paid for and my gamble was good.

From a technical standpoint, the highlight of the show was the hot air balloon that took Clara and Drosselmeier to and from the Land of Sweets — the Opera House is big, ornate, and gorgeous, so it was neat that they were able to use the verticality of the stage to fly in a balloon! (Well, not a real balloon, per se, but a big cut-out balloon shape with a basket beneath it.)

Having realio, trulio little boys in the party scene was nice. They didn’t have to wear caps! Mother Ginger’s “little boys” still had their hair tucked into their hats, though.

Of course I have a list of silly little nitpicks — like that the children’s party clothes were pale yellows and blues, a bit monochomatic and boring, Clara only stood out because she wore pointe shoes. Or that they didn’t bring the Nutcracker on behind Drosselmeier’s cloak (“Wow, how’d they do that?!” is completely lost when he just walks on). Or that down-side of casting company members as the parents at the party is that the “mothers” look only about ten years older than their children. But it’s all fairly petty. Mostly it was just fun!

Neither the baby mice nor the angels got an “awww” from the audience, but little lambs that came on with pastorale shepherds did! And yes, there was a black sheep.

The battle scene was very chaotic — many toys made an appearance! The dancing dolls from the party came back (the Harlequin and Columbine dolls you might expect but also the big dancing teddy bear!) and after the obligatory toy soldiers came mounted soldiers whose horses was part of their costumes. A canon was fired somewhere in there, but it didn’t seem to do much. The mice had big furry suits, which is why the baby mice weren’t adorable, but there was a laugh for the Red Cross stretcher that the mice brought out for a fallen comrade. The furry suits were somewhere between scary and absurd, pretty good. Much better (I thought) than the pudgy mice costumes that Northwest Florida Ballet rolled out (and I do mean “rolled”) last time I went, whenever that was (two years ago? six?). As for the magic, not just the tree, but the whole room grew, which was neat — the back wall folded out to make the stage bigger while a normal-sized chair was pulled off and replaced with a giant-sized chair. Lots to look for — the program mentioned the shoe-throwing bit, but I didn’t see it, and there was really just more to see than a person could take in! The poor soldiers still didn’t get to dance, though. I remember how much that sucked.

After the beginning of the second act, the Nutcracker himself faded away or became the Sugar Plum Fairy’s Prince Cavalier or something, but Drosselmeier hung around. He danced with Mother Ginger briefly, which was awkward and hilarious, as Mother Ginger walks on stilts so that her skirt is massive enough for her eight or ten children to hide under!

Someday I want to figure out which Chinese custom/ tradition/gesture got subverted so that holding up two fingers on each hand instantly means that you’re Chinese in the Nutcracker… They had some great parasol-spinning, though.

The Arabian dancers were great — she was amazingly, disgustingly flexible and had a knee behind her ear for about half the piece. Actually, pretty much everyone was amazing. Plus, live orchestra — very cool.

I’m really just a very happy little girl tonight.

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