PNB’s Nutcracker: Too Sentimental or Joyfully Transcendental?
Posted November 27, 2007
Personally, I love
Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker production.
addition to the cliché but nonetheless-thrilling Tchaikovsky
score, there are gorgeous sets and charming costumes designed
by Maurice Sendak.
And Kent Stowell’s
concept and choreography succeed. Actually, I think it is among
Stowell’s best works. The choreography is interesting for those
of us who attend the ballet often, yet super-accessible for
those who have never been. Picture big jumps for the men,
lyrical passages for the women, fun moves for the 85 children
onstage, and not too many of those rhythmically baffling moments
you sometimes find in Stowell’s work.
the dancers in PNB’s Nutcracker are Christmasly
beautiful, year after year after year. Here’s where their
professionalism really comes into play. They make Nutcracker
look fresh and delightful despite the fact some of them have
performed it many hundreds of times during their careers.
It’s a great show,
one with heart. It’s joyous and scary, real and fantastical,
adventurous and (cliché alert!)…magical.
The thing is, magic
moments aren’t for everyone.
Hidden Hijinks: Some of the Christmas Eve mischief isn’t really
meant for the audience, so it’s all the more fun when you can
catch it. For example, when Stacy Lowenberg danced Peacock one
Christmas, she found her golden cage lined with newspaper. Keep
your eyes peeled.
(Stacy Lowenberg as Peacock in PNB’s Nutrcracker. Angela
My husband, for
one. He’s not alone. Cynical, child-phobic, cute-sensitive folk
had best avoid this traditional Christmas ballet. Unless, that
is, you can go on December 24…when the dancers take a few
liberties with costumes and props. It’s not promised, and was
formerly not even sanctioned, but every Christmas Eve
performance I’ve been to has had a little something extra
dreamed up by the dancers and folks backstage. These are
creative people who can pull off the subtle joke, the big gag,
and even the happy comment. I’ll never forget the toilet paper
streamer stuck to a toe shoe one Christmas. Or the giant
toothbrush trotted out for the Nutcracker setpiece’s cheesy
smile. Or Clara and the Prince cross-country skiing across the
stage after the Waltz of the Snowflakes. Did I say “waltz”? Hm…some
Christmas Eves it’s more like a snowball fight in a blizzard.
Watch your Scrooge smile. Like I said: magic.
Magic moments will
run you $20 to $125 per ticket. Is it worth it? Yes, if you have
the means. (Check out the 25 percent discount for groups, the 15
discount coupon from Bartell Drugs, Ivar's, or Kidd Valley, and
the approximately 10 percent discount for kids 12 and under.) Tickets
are available at
www.pnb.org, by calling
or at both the PNB and the McCaw Hall box offices. The show ends
If you’re not quite
sure that your tyke is ready for a full-length performance but
want to dip his/her tiny toe into this Christmas tradition, I’d
recommend Sasquatch Books’ 2005 Nutcracker book. The
prose is not inspired, but that doesn’t matter much, since the
focus is the beautiful production photos by former dancer Angela
Sterling. It’s a keepsake book, one you can pull out and enjoy
every December. Less than $30, available on PNB’s website… Maybe
my Cynic will buy me a copy for Christmas.
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