Richardson — Collin County Ballet Theatre truly hit the nail on the head with their annual production of The Nutcracker. The Plano Symphony orchestra, conducted by Hector Guzman once again accompanied the performance at the Charles W. Eisemann Center. Directed by Kirt and Linda Hathaway, the company delivers standout moments every year for this holiday favorite, but everything seemed to click this time around. Cuban stars Adiarys Almeida and Taras Domitro steal the show as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier every time they’re in town, but certain dancers and segments of this year’s show ran a close second to the number one attraction of this production.
A well-rehearsed cast of all ages made the annual Christmas party at the Silberhaus home simply sparkle. The hosts Mayor Silberhaus (Kevin Dakake) and Frau Silberhaus (Lauren Gonzales) spectacularly engaged the audience as they entertained their guests and controlled the chaos on stage. Katherine Gonzalez as their daughter Clara impressed with her delicate balance of precise technique and lively performance.
Kirt Hathaway delighted with his portrayal of the mysterious Drosselmeyer, from whom Clara received the coveted nutcracker doll. Carefully staged vignettes and group dances created a satisfying feeling of slight but manageable frenzy, and of course, the dancing bears were the highlight of the scene.
After the party guests leave, Dakake proved that he has commendable technique as well as acting skills, as he switched roles to the Nutcracker Prince in a rather exciting battle scene between the mice and the soldiers. Gonzales contributed equally to the success of the scene with her iconic portrayal of the Rat King. I wonder if it’s a deliberate choice to have the same actors who play the party parents duke it out in Clara’s dream.
The journey through the Land of Snow was also thrilling, mostly because of the Snow King and Queen. Danced by guest artists Marlen Alimanov and Brittany Harano, it was one of the most delightful Snow pas de deuxs I’ve ever seen. Strong partnering, stellar turns, and consistent performance qualities made for a perfect duet. The confidence, trust, and seamless nature of their pairing was one of the high points of the evening. The Snowflakes held their own with the quick choreography and did a commendable job.
Clara traveled through the Lemonade Sea (another CCBT exclusive) and finally to the Kingdom of Sweets, where the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier greeted them and rewarded Clara and the Prince for defeating the Rat King.
A vivacious Spanish trio opened up the divertissements followed by the Arabian. Alimanov and Lauren Huynh danced the latter and proved that they’re just as stunning with the sensuous qualities of the variation as they are with the pristine snow segment.
The Chinese and Mirliton quartets executed their respective variations admirably, with both groups remaining impressively consistent in their performance qualities. Floyd McLean, Jr. absolutely rocked it as the Russian Trepak, completely deserving the loud applause from the audience. CCBT also boasts one of the cutest Mother Ginger segments. Micki Saba proudly led a large, cohesive group of youngsters around the stage dressed as bakers and gingerbread cookies.
Sophie Ludwig as the Dew Drop Fairy and CCBT alumnus Kade Cummings as her Cavalier magnificently danced the lead roles in “Waltz of the Flowers,” alongside a lovely flower ensemble.
Not much could top the Harano/Alimanov power duo, but the Almedia/Domitro grand pas de deux was the pinnacle of the ballet, as expected. They displayed enviable turns, superb musicality, and dazzling precision, closing a production that most certainly shines brighter this year.