The Nutcracker

We were fortunate enough to win a double pass to the Royal NZ Ballet’s show The Nutcracker this week!  We were thrilled – I had been wanting to go, and Pearl had been wistfully pointing out the ads for it in every newspaper for a while.  I think The Dad would have quite liked to go too – in fact, I would love to have been able to take the entire family – but there were only two tickets, and he had another commitment in any case, so Pearl and I went together.

Pearl was enchanted to look over the wall into the orchestra pit and see real live musicians – and not one, but two concert harps!  I assured her that she would hear them several times during the ballet, and we made a bit of a game out of catching each other’s eye during the evening whenever we picked out the harp(s).

She was a bit restless during the overture, and I had to whisper in her ear to tell her what to expect.  I should have thought to warn her about the intermezzo too…

This version of the Nutcracker is set mostly in a children’s hospital – the idea being that Clara and her brother were fighting over the nutcracker on Christmas eve and she gets hit on the head.  Most of the dances are then dreams brought on by a combination of head injury and potent medicine dispensed by Matron.  Sir Jon Trimmer danced/acted the Matron wonderfully, in true pantomime tradition.  And the whole show was absolutely fabulous.

Near the start there were a couple of pyrotechnics, one when some  Christmas tree lights “blow a fuse”, and another when the nutcracker toy comes to life.  Pearl really didn’t like those, and hid down in her seat, but was soon caught up in the magic on stage again.  It’s hard to pick a favourite scene – Clara in her hospital bed flying above the Nutcracker Soldiers, or the beautiful Arabian princesses, or the comical trio of men dancing on crutches(!)… Through it all, there is a little side-story, a romance between one of the nurses and a young doctor, which is very sweet.  And the grand pas de deux is danced, not by the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier, but by Clara’s parents, transformed in her dream to Hollywood stars, a la 1920s (or so).

I had worried that Pearl would flag during such a late night out, but she fizzed all the way home, and couldn’t wait to tell The Dad all about it.  I know it’s only early November, but it really was a great way to start the Christmas “season”.

© UpsideBackwards 2010.

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