Review: Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker

A Little Bit of Magic

The magic of the holiday season has descended upon McCaw Hall, ushered in on the wings of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s annual treat, The Nutcracker.  The air inside the theater was alive with anticipation, and the excitement emanating from all the hundreds of children present was palpable.

Clara's Christmas Tree - A signature moment of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Stowell/Sendak Nutcracker occurs when Clara’s Christmas tree grows from 14 to 28 feet.  The majestic tree was constructed by Boeing engineers and weighs 1,000 pounds.

Clara's Christmas Tree - A signature moment of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Stowell/Sendak Nutcracker occurs when Clara’s Christmas tree grows from 14 to 28 feet. The majestic tree was constructed by Boeing engineers and weighs 1,000 pounds.

The Story and the Set

The ballet is based on the original story written by E.T.A. Hoffman and brought to life by the choreography of former PNB Artistic Director, Kent Stowell.  The sumptuous sets designed by Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are) play a crucial role in the success of this stellar production.  They not only envelop the stage like a lush, Victorian picture book, but also provide a sense of pure magic.  Everything from the massive growing Christmas tree and the enormous Mouse King that wickedly encircles the stage–to the realistic boat ride along the sea, leaves audiences captivated and riveted to the edge of their seats.

Clara

The role of young Clara was marvelously played by PNB student, Eileen Kelly.  Kelly’s mannerisms and characterization were both impressive and believable.

Carrie Imler , Principal Dancer, PNB, as adult Clara was nothing short of outstanding.  Imler’s Clara provides a stunning portrayal of a maiden whose heart is laced with the charms and emotions of girlhood.  She is her Prince’s devoted equal in terms of bravery, and wants nothing more than to remain locked within the confines of this beautiful dream with him forever.

The Prince

Batkhurel Bold, Principal Dancer, PNB, gave a powerful performance as the dashing Prince.  His movements were breathtaking, his character regal and confident.  Bold not only captivates audiences with his impressive strength, but sweeps them off their feet as Clara’s faithful protector, companion, and hero.  Their gorgeous, sweeping pas de deux conveys all the beauty and promise of young love.

A Cast of Characters

Herr Drosselmeier/Pasha

Jordan Pacitti shines in the dual role of Herr Drosselmeier/Pasha.  As Drosselmeier, Pacitti is teasing yet harmless, a classic example of a man who is “a little boy on the inside.”  He not only revels in his ability to shock and amaze the party guests, but takes the most delight in getting a rise out of young Clara.  Later, however,  as the Pasha, Pacitti transforms from a fiendish eccentric, into a protective father-figure, possessive of both Clara and her affections.

Ballerina Doll

Sarah Ricard Orza gave a lovely performance as the wind-up Ballerina Doll.  Her masterful display breathed new life into this well-loved character, one who is sure to star in many little girls’ dreams.

An Enchanted Land

The Moors, A Chinese Tiger, The Commedia

Act Two whisks Clara and the Prince along to an enchanted land where they are greeted by a lavish display of hospitality, courtesy of the Pasha.  Moors dance about with bright, energetic flair.  A dancing Chinese tiger, charmingly played by Ryan Cardea, received more than a few giggles and squeals of delight.  The Commedia (Liora Reshef, Benjamin Griffiths and Rachel Foster) were reminiscent of a precious music box or toy shoppe window.  Griffiths’ acrobatics and technical prowess were evident both here and during his role as Sword-Dancer Doll in Act One.

The Chinese Tiger

The Chinese Tiger

The Peacock

Lesley Rausch, soloist, PNB mesmerized in her role as the fluttering, sensuous Peacock; a winged beauty transported via gilded cage.  Rausch’s expert characterization was daring, captivating, and hypnotic.

Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Lesley Rausch as the Peacock in PNB's Stowell/Sendak Nutcracker.  Photo © Angela Sterling

Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Lesley Rausch as the Peacock in PNB's Stowell/Sendak Nutcracker. Photo © Angela Sterling

The Whirling Dervishes

The three whirling Dervishes (Barry Kerollis, James Moore, and Josh Spell) were absolutely thrilling. These fantastic dancers created a spectacular “tour de force” that left every little boy in the audience inspired and awe-struck.

Flora

Lindsi Dec, soloist, PNB,  soared to new heights as the beautiful blossom maiden, Flora.  Dec gave herself completely over to her role, and that coupled with her long, gorgeous lines and jubilant expression, made her performance exhilarating to behold.

Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Lindsi Dec as Flora in the Waltz of the Flowers from PNB's Stowell/Sendak Nutcracker.  PNB’s acclaimed production of Nutcracker runs November 27 – December 30, 2009 at Seattle Center’s McCaw Hall.  Tickets are available online at www.pnb.org or by calling 206.441.2424. Photo © Angela Sterling

Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Lindsi Dec as Flora in the Waltz of the Flowers from PNB's Stowell/Sendak Nutcracker. Photo © Angela Sterling

Snow, Waltz of the Flowers

PNB’s corps de ballet performed beautifully as a chorus of swirling, icy snowflakes glittering in the moonlight. Their dazzling display literally made a chill run down my spine.  Later during the Waltz of the Flowers, I could almost smell a hint of jasmine and rose being carried along on a soft, spring breeze.

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s, Nutcracker

I was once again impressed with the caliber of dancing and characterization offered by this amazing company, as well as the talent that exuded from its students.  Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker is a must-see and should be a part of every family’s holiday tradition.

PNB’s acclaimed production of Nutcracker

runs November 27 – December 30, 2009

at Seattle Center’s McCaw Hall.

Tickets are available online at www.pnb.org or by calling 206.441.2424

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