Oh, the magic of it all. Living dolls. The Sugar Plum Fairy. The Snow Queen. Dancing snowflakes. A Christmas tree that grows to spectacular heights. It’s The Nutcracker, in all its magic, beauty, and holiday charm. With music by Peter Tchaikovsky and stunning scenery and costume design by Simon Pastukh and Galina Solovyeva, Salwa Rizkalla’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 Festival Ballet Theatre has found two regulars 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 ferocious Mouse King, and just when it seems all is lost, Clara distracts the Mouse King and saves her beloved nutcracker. Her act of bravery transforms the nutcracker into a handsome prince who takes Clara on a magical journey.
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 was the well-acted sibling rivalry displayed between Clara and her young brother. The living dolls delighted all, followed by an entertaining escapade of tiny dancing mice. The Nutcracker and the Mouse King wowed the audience with their amazing jumping abilities and thrilling sword fight scene, captivating the attention of both the male and female audience.
The opening scene of Act 2 was highlighted by excellent choreography and stunning costuming. The Chinese dances were especially entertaining and obviously well-rehearsed, but the most remarkable performance was the Sugar Plum Fairy, flawlessly danced by Irina Dvorovenko. Dvorovenko thrilled the audience with a series of gravity-defying toe touches and breathtaking pirouettes. Her control, innocence, and grace represented all that is beautiful about the ballet. I felt a lump in my throat as I imagined my daughter leaping across the stage in a dream-like costume like the Sugar Plum Fairy.
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 featuring world-renowned guest artists from American Ballet Theatre, the Joffrey Ballet, Festival Ballet Theatre’s professional company dancers, and exceptional budding young talent from across Southern California 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.
Festival Ballet Theatre: The Nutcracker
Presented by Festival Ballet Theatre
12/10/2011 – 12/24/2011
With internationally-acclaimed guest artists from American Ballet Theatre and the Joffrey Ballet.
December 10 & 11
Irina Dvorovenko & Maxim Beloserkovsky
Gillian Murphy & Gennadi Saveliev