Thursday, December 11, marked opening night for the long-awaited Nutcracker and kicked off the 2014/15 Season for Atlanta Ballet. The Nutcracker takes us back 100 years ago to a snowy Christmas Eve in St. Petersburg, Russia. A toy maker named Droselmeyer had just finished putting the finishing touches on some gifts he was taking to children at the Petrov house. On his way to the Petrov house, he passes the magical town clock he created, and sees it chime three times. After each chime a different character appeared: A ballerina, a nutcracker, and a rat king.
The Nutcracker is an artistic piece, most synonymous with the holiday season, that will also bring a bit of nostalgia. Most people can recount a performance during their childhood (or performing it in school). For some of us that may mean the 1950s and 1960s, for others it may be the late 80s or early 90s. The great part about seeing an updated performance is that you get a chance to see how far innovation and creativity have come in artistic performances.
The stage setup was good, the dancing was fantastic, and kudos must be given to Judanna Lynn in Costume Design. A part of those upgrades that were visually appealing? All of the costumes. A Rat King that was actually dressed up like a rat (no mask or fake tails), a man who actually looked like a Nutcracker, and in ACT II where the Shepherdess (Kiara Felder) performed with her flock? All 3 of them were in full-lamb costumes. The old-school days involved masks, with some being attached to sticks and what not. Now in 2014 you can appreciate the creativity of the Costume, Set, and Lighting Design.
There’s a long-list of upgrades the Atlanta Ballet brought to the forefront that fans will appreciate. When it started snowing in St. Petersburg, it was concurrently snowing in the Fox Theatre. You could hear the “oohs” and “aahs” as the snow fell, and could see people raising their hands to try to touch it. When Droselmeyer was upstairs in his building preparing for his travels, he threw a handkerchief out his 2nd story window. To the amazement of the audience the handkerchief zigzagged in mid-air for a solid minute before disappearing.
Normally a ballet will have an audience admire its art form in complete silence, with the performance itself accompanied by an orchestra. Atlanta Ballet stepped it up and welcomed a bit of interaction, which turned out to be a smashing success. Remember these scenes: Spanish, Mother Matrushka, and Trepak. You won’t be disappointed!
It was a great feeling knowing the sound troubles that we usually note in association with the Fox, appeared to have been rectified for this performance. With theatre sound standing above par, it gave way for the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra to massage the souls of those in attendance. You’ll recognize the sounds from Sugar Plum Fairy, Nutcracker Doll, Rat King, and Snowflakes scenes.
This was hands-down, the best performance of Nutcracker we’ve ever seen. This was more than a ballet, it was an experience. 10 out of 10. Make sure you experience Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker before it’s too late (you can purchase tickets HERE). It will run at the Fox until December 28.