Flower Mound — It’s the busiest shopping weekend of the season and also seems to be the busiest Nutcracker weekend, as well. Luckily, Dallas and Fort Worth aren’t the only places to see a good, quality Nut. LakeCities Ballet Theatre entertained a sold-out house at Marcus High School in Flower Mound with its annual favorite, The Nutcracker, and will take it to Little Elm in two weeks.
LBT is also the only Nutcracker in the Metroplex to feature a live orchestra performing the full original arrangement. Directed by Adron Ming, the Lewisville Lake Symphony Orchestra once again fills the auditorium with the joyous sounds of live music as the timeless ballet unfolds on stage. Fulfilling highlights include the “Waltz of the Flowers” and the snow choir directed by Jennifer Hunter.
The ballet takes us back to 19th century Germany where guests eagerly arrive at the Silberhaus home for a magnificent Christmas party. Gifts and merriment abound, but the most delightful present is a nutcracker, bestowed unto Clara Silberhaus (Carley Denton) by the old trickster Herr Drosselmeyer (guest artist Kenn Wells). After the guests have departed and everyone falls asleep, Clara wakes to find giant mice scurrying about, doing the bidding of the Mouse King (Robert Stewart). Fortunately, her nutcracker doll comes to life (Ruben Gerding) and with her help, defeats the Mouse King. A fantastic journey through the Land of Snow culminates with a visit to the Kingdom of Sweets where guests from around the world entertain her.
LBT typically presents impressive full-length ballets, and this one is no exception. The production is carefully choreographed by artistic director Kelly Lannin, assisted by Nancy Loch, Shannon Beacham, Lindsay Coe, and Fabiana Fadlala. A simple party scene provides ample amounts of comedy and showcases some commendable acting. The humor is bumped up a notch with a battle scene that is exciting but doesn’t take itself too seriously, lest it become cheesy and overdone. Stewart’s performance once again makes this the best scene of the ballet, but his rodent minions rise to the comedic challenge, as well.
A charming Michael Eaton (a LakeCities alumnus) joins the cast as a guest artist this year in the role of the Snow King, as he partners Amanda Evans as the Snow Queen. Evans shows some improvement over last year as she demonstrates a deeper expressiveness.
Act Two reveals the headlining guest stars from American Ballet Theatre, Julie Kent and Sascha Radetsky as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her cavalier, respectively. Kent returns for her 15th and final Nutcracker with LBT. It’s a shame she’ll no longer be dancing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy for the company. She’s absolutely stunning to watch. Her years as an ABT principal have refined her technique to an exquisite peak. While she may not reach for the highest attitudes or spine-breaking arabesques, her mature movement quality truly makes the art form look effortless. Radetsky, as usual, excites with his gravity-defying leaps.
The rest of the divertissements feature some thrilling moments, such as Andre Harrington’s acrobatics in the Russian variation and Faith Jones’ feats of flexibility in the Arabian.
The company once again presents a fabulous “Waltz of the Flowers.” Kendall Galey is promoted to Dewdrop fairy this year and doesn’t disappoint. Steven Loch as her cavalier nails some splendid turns. Demi-soloists Logan Lockhart, Shannon Beacham, Madeline Smithers, and Ruben Gerding shine, and the flower corps displays a lovely charm as they connect with each other on stage.
The only downside to the evening is the lighting. The colors are too heavily saturated, and it makes the varying hues of the costume blend in with each other. The overuse of colored lights also makes the stage seem a little darker, so the movement details aren’t as distinct.
Overall, though, LakeCities puts on a wonderful Nutcracker. It’s not a completely perfect picture, but these young dancers have impressive technical and performance abilities. If you haven’t seen a Nut yet, put this one on your list and catch them again in two weeks.
» LakeCities Ballet Theatre's The Nutcracker, with some casting changes, repeats at 2 p.m. Dec. 14 and 15 at the Little Elm Recreation Center, 303 Main St. Little Elm, Texas.