Richardson — Fritz swings a dead rat at Clara, Mayor Silberhaus yanks his errant son off stage by the ear, Grandmier gets carried away in a fast jig and ends up falling backward into Herr Drosselmeyer’s arms—and so it goes for the Silberhaus Christmas Eve party. Collin County Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker, performed Monday night at the Eisemann Center and featuring the Plano Symphony Orchestra, varied from tame to terrific, with most of the tame coming in the party scene and the terrific toward the end.
Except for the delightful Ballerina Doll (Tiffany Lee) with her mincing steps and the handsome Soldier Doll (Kade Cummings) in Act 1, the party barely got off ground. In a new twist, three burly bears took the place of the Soldier Doll to dance to jaunty martial music.
Cute little mice swarm the now almost empty ballroom, prompting Clara to take cover by jumping on a sofa. Ominous red lights flash, fog billows in, and when King Rat (Nathan Blaser) makes his menacing appearance, the Nutcracker Prince (Ruben Gerding) pulls out his sword and the fight is on. When the Prince falls, Clara flings the fateful slipper at King Rat, saving the Prince.
It should have been exciting if only Clara (Isabella Furrillo) had expressed a whiff of alarm— or when called for, delight.
Things perked up in Act II, the Kingdom of the Sweets, which opened with Lemonade Sea Queen (Ashlyn Thompson) bourréeing prettily as she waves her arms. Lemonade Sea Maidens, Lemonade Sea Sprites, Angels, Cherubs, Petite Fleurs and Pages cover the stage in a silky glow, and moving forward, the Sugar Plum Fairy (Adiarys Almeida) and her Cavalier (Carlos Lopez) throw off some sparkle.
Ms. Almeida is small and delicate, and her heavy gold-and-red incrusted tutu seems as though it might weigh her down. Her lightness of foot and suppleness of arm, however, defy even the most cumbersome of costumes.
The divertissements are swift and deft, with the most notable performances by a sultry Arabian (Lauren Gonzales) in mustard harem pants, a sunny Ms. Lee as one of four Merlitons, and Micki Saba as a good-humored Mother Ginger. Her 16 bakers in white pants and chef’s caps lick their long wooden spoons with gusto, as her 10 Gingerbreads fan out on stage.
Whatever shortcomings a particular Nutcracker might have, all is forgiven as long as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier provide a little magic. This they did, especially Ms. Almeida, who whipped out super-fast triple fouttées in a whirl of motion, posed on one leg while making delicate beats with the other foot, and rotating ever so gracefully on her partner’s arm. The Orchestra seemed inspired by her, and wisely kept the tempo leisurely at the beginning of the pas de deux, gradually speeding up to build a rousing crescendo.
» Margaret Putnam has been writing about dance since 1980, with works published by D Magazine, The Dallas Observer, The Dallas Times Herald, The Dallas Morning News, The New York Times, Playbill, Stagebill, Pointe Magazine and Dance Magazine.