The Nutcracker Dazzles For The Holiday Season

Posted November 24, 2017 by Cheryl Fenton in Theater & Arts
Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker. Photo Credit: Igor Bulgarian

Whether you’re seeing it for the first time or the 15th, it’s always a seasonal joy to watch the wondrous journey of Clara. Very rarely does a young lady get a Christmas present that transports her into a dreamy world of toy soldiers, come-to-life candies, fighting mice, dancing snowflakes, and fairies. No, it isn’t an ordinary Christmas Eve when Drosselmeyer bestows a nutcracker to his god-daughter at the annual family holiday party. The wooden toy magically transforms into a handsome prince, who leads her through an enchanted forest to a lavish Kingdom of Sweets.

Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker returns to the Boston Opera House stage for its sixth holiday season, running November 24 through New Year’s Eve. When it debuted in 2012, Nissinen’s vision was the first time Boston Ballet created a new production in both design and dance. With the help of Robert Perdziola, lavish sets take the audiences from the subtle shades of the Act I party scene to the vibrant colors in Act II’s Land of the Sweets and more than 350 intricate costumes dazzle with hundreds of thousands of jewels. New lighting design by renowned Finnish designer Mikki Kunttu was also added in 2015.

The performances have maintained the charm and breathtaking visuals as seen in the original premiere on December 18, 1892, in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Boston Ballet’s original performance in 1963. The 2017 season’s run boasts the talent of the full company of 56 dancers,10 Boston Ballet II dancers, and 250 Boston Ballet School students, with many dancer debuts in new roles, including Patric Palken as the Nutcracker Prince and Chyrstyn Fentroy in the Arabian Dance. The music is the same that we have loved for decades – Tchaikovsky’s renowned score performed by the beloved Boston Ballet Orchestra, led by Principal Guest Conductor Beatrice Jona Affron and guest conductors Kenneth Hsieh and Geneviève Leclair. Some say this Russian composer forever changed the world of ballet with his Nutcracker works. We tend to agree.

There are a few surprises accompanying this year’s performance, including a special All Access Nutcracker event December 19. Designed to make the show more accessible and enjoyable for the special needs community, there will be large print programs, live audio description, audio-enhanced equipment, ASL interpretation, specialized seating options, and a digital “social story” to preview the Opera House and Nutcracker experience. There will also be a Touch Tour at Boston Ballet’s headquarters (19 Clarendon Street) on December 17, allowing participants to physically experience the show’s props, costumes, characters, and movement.

The enjoyment of this holiday classic isn’t limited to stage-time. In the Opera House’s lower lobby on December 2, at 1:30 pm, a Master Builder from LEGOLAND Discovery Center will build a tree mosaic modeled after the ballet’s growing (16 feet to 43 feet, to be exact) tree. Audience members can help decorate the tree with LEGO ornaments during intermission. The tree will be displayed throughout the show’s run, along with a four-foot LEGO brick nutcracker perfect for Instagram-ing.

There are 44 performances this season, and regardless of when you indulge in its yuletide cheer, the Boston Ballet promises a show sure to become your new favorite Christmas tradition (if it isn’t already). You could say they’re clearly on pointe with the true holiday experience.

Performances run until December 31. For show times and more information, visit bostonballet.org/nutcracker/ or call 617-695-6955. The Boston Opera is located at 539 Washington Street in Boston.