THEATER | DANCE | CLASSICAL MUSIC | OPERA | COMEDY

NORTH TEXAS PERFORMING ARTS NEWS

REVIEWS

NO CAPTION

Review: The Nutcracker (Dallas) | Texas Ballet Theater | Bass Performance Hall


A New Nutcracker to Savor

Ben Stevenson and the Texas Ballet Theater make some changes to The Nutcracker, and it's all for the better.



published Saturday, November 24, 2012
1 comment


Can a ballet be short, yet at the same time run for two hours? It can if it's Ben Stevenson's new production of The Nutcracker presented by Texas Ballet Theater at AT&T Performing Arts Center's Winspear Opera House, where it plays for two weekends before its longer run at Fort Worth's Bass Performance Hall.

With completely redesigned sets and costumes and some new choreography, the spectacle has the power to transport even the most hardened skeptic into the world of shimmer and sweets.

Photo: Ellen Appel
The Nutcracker Prince and Mouse King in Texas Ballet Theater's "The Nutcracker"

One thing Stevenson didn't mess with, however, is the story. It's still a typical Nutcracker. Clara Stahlbaum (Alexandra Farber) receives the gift of a nutcracker at her family's annual Christmas party. Later that evening everything becomes larger-than-life under a giant Christmas tree. As mice attack, her beloved doll comes to life with his entourage of soldiers to protect her. The mice parade their king who battles (and loses to) the Nutcracker. The life-sized doll transforms into a prince (Lucas Priolo), who takes her to the Kingdom of Sweets for a dazzling array of diverse entertainment.

Part of the wonder and excitement comes from the surprises which Stevenson masterfully unveils. Instead of giving a run-down of the performance and risk spoiling the magic, here are just a few reasons (in no particular order) why it is imperative that you carve time out of a busy holiday schedule to see it.

 

1. Party Scene

Photo: Ellen Appel
Members of Texas Ballet Theater's "The Nutcracker"

A typical party scene can either be the highlight of the show or the part that never ends, depending on whether you're the parent of a child in the cast or one wanting to see the real dancing. If you're the type to view this part as just a means to get to Act II, then you might be pleasantly surprised. The elegant new set allows for the usual bedlam of bodies to be somewhat dispersed, so that the potential haphazard feeling of a crowded stage is lessened. The best part about this scene, though, is how well-thought out and well-rehearsed it is. Each little vignette portraying the goings-on of a party is deliberately performed and perfectly timed with the music. Every cast member knows his or her part and executes it wonderfully.

 

2. Snow Scene

Photo: Ellen Appel
Betsy McBride is the Sugar Plum Fairy in Texas Ballet Theater's "The Nutcracker"

One of the biggest changes comes with the snow scene at the end of Act I. Without revealing too much of the goodness, let's just say that gone are the days of a simple backdrop with bodies clad in all white floating about an empty stage. The joy doesn't stop with the set and costuming, though; the snow prince gets more time in the spotlight. Carl Coomer gives us another superior performance as he seems to defy gravity with his sissones. One downside: snowflakes do not need jazz hands. 

 

3. Improved divertissements

The Spanish variation goes through the extreme makeover. The six cast members don costumes beautifully blended with brown, orange and red. Allisyn Hsieh looks exceptionally classy with the spicy choreography. Alexander Kotelenets and Katelyn Clenaghan bring more steam to the same Arabian choreography, and the lovely lady of the duo procures quite a few gasps with her amazing feats of flexibility. The astonishment, however, arrives with the couple's entrance and sets the tone for the rest of the mystical dance.

 

4. Manly men—and one not quite so

Coomer isn't the only TBT man who appears to defy gravity, and Stevenson seems to enjoy showing off those company members with the Chinese and Gopak (Russian) variations. Drake Humphreys and Joamanuel Velazquez convey a feeling of stopped time as they duel and jump of each other in a slower Chinese sequence. Thomas Kilps garners the most applause with his jaw-dropping turns, floor work, and leaps for an all-new Russian segment.

Paul Adams receives accolades, as well, but for a different reason. Dressed as Madame Bonbonaire (large skirt and all), he just about steals the attention away from a very talented ensemble of dancers from the TBT school who play her children. Paul, if you ever have aspirations of auditioning for Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, you'd probably go far.

 

5. Grand Pas de Deux

Photo: Ellen Appel
  Carl Coomer and Betsy McBride in Texas Ballet Theater's "The Nutcracker"

As the climax of Act II and containing the most memorable music of the ballet, the grand pas de deux is one last hurrah before the curtain falls on an amazed Clara. The costume for the Sugar Plum Fairy this year boasts a beautifully deep maroon, but the harmonious sequence of choreography remains stunning as usual.

As for Carolyn Judson as the Sugar Plum Fairy, (who danced the role at the performance reviewed; she alternates with Betsy McBride), someone must have replaced her with a doll or maybe one of those ballerina figurines found in every little girl's jewelry box. With the way Priolo swings her around and tosses her in the air and their meticulously controlled partnering, one might think she was inhuman. Only her delighted facial expressions gave any hint that she might be fallible flesh-and-blood and not a ballerina-bot.

It was at the end of the duet that I suddenly realized in shock that the ballet was almost over. Where did the time go?

 

 

 

The Nutcracker is performed:

  • Through Dec. 2 at the Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas
  • Dec. 7-23 at Bass Hall. There will also be the return of the popular "The Nutty Nutcracker" at Bass Hall, at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 21.

Click here to see our listing with times and more info. Thanks For Reading




Comments:

Ken West writes:
Monday, December 3 at 6:18PM

While I appreciate that this author is attempting (quite unsuccessfully) to be unique in her word choice, some of the phrases used in this article are downright unsettling. For instance, "With the way Priolo swings her around and tosses her in the air and their meticulously controlled partnering, one might think she was inhuman. Only her delighted facial expressions gave any hint that she might be fallible flesh-and-blood and not a ballerina-bot." Besides the fact that the first sentence is very poorly constructed, what are these two sentences trying to say? Using words like "inhuman," "flesh-and-blood," and "ballerina-bot" to refer to a lovely princess that many young girls aspire to be is plain bizarre.

I suggest that all critics, including this author, take the time to read Oscar Wilde's "The Critic as Artist." This critic in particular should consider reading it before attempting her next article. For, in the words of Oscar Wilde, "Criticism is itself an art."


Dates, Prices, & Other Details

View the Article Slideshow

Comment on this Article

Share this article on Social Media
Click or Swipe to close
A New Nutcracker to Savor
Ben Stevenson and the Texas Ballet Theater make some changes to The Nutcracker, and it's all for the better.
by Cheryl Callon

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Hunting and Gathering Cliburn Andrea Bocelli in Concert High School Musical Theatre Awards Nunsense Galatea Theatre Three Dallas Opera 2014-2015 Season Fort Worth Opera Festival 2014 Watertower Contemporary Theatre of Dallas Shakespeare in Hollywood Treasures Celebrating 30 Years of Dance Ma Rainy's Black Bottom Irving Arts Center Hunting and Gathering Cliburn Andrea Bocelli in Concert High School Musical Theatre Awards Nunsense Galatea Theatre Three Dallas Opera 2014-2015 Season Fort Worth Opera Festival 2014 Watertower Contemporary Theatre of Dallas Shakespeare in Hollywood Treasures Celebrating 30 Years of Dance Ma Rainy's Black Bottom Irving Arts Center Hunting and Gathering Cliburn Andrea Bocelli in Concert High School Musical Theatre Awards Nunsense Galatea Theatre Three Dallas Opera 2014-2015 Season Fort Worth Opera Festival 2014 Watertower Contemporary Theatre of Dallas Shakespeare in Hollywood Treasures Celebrating 30 Years of Dance Ma Rainy's Black Bottom Irving Arts Center Hunting and Gathering Cliburn Andrea Bocelli in Concert High School Musical Theatre Awards Nunsense Galatea Theatre Three Dallas Opera 2014-2015 Season Fort Worth Opera Festival 2014 Watertower Contemporary Theatre of Dallas Shakespeare in Hollywood Treasures Celebrating 30 Years of Dance Ma Rainy's Black Bottom Irving Arts Center Hunting and Gathering Cliburn Andrea Bocelli in Concert High School Musical Theatre Awards Nunsense Galatea Theatre Three Dallas Opera 2014-2015 Season Fort Worth Opera Festival 2014 Watertower Contemporary Theatre of Dallas Shakespeare in Hollywood Treasures Celebrating 30 Years of Dance Ma Rainy's Black Bottom Irving Arts Center Hunting and Gathering Cliburn Andrea Bocelli in Concert High School Musical Theatre Awards Nunsense Galatea Theatre Three Dallas Opera 2014-2015 Season Fort Worth Opera Festival 2014 Watertower Contemporary Theatre of Dallas Shakespeare in Hollywood Treasures Celebrating 30 Years of Dance Ma Rainy's Black Bottom Irving Arts Center Hunting and Gathering Cliburn Andrea Bocelli in Concert High School Musical Theatre Awards Nunsense Galatea Theatre Three Dallas Opera 2014-2015 Season Fort Worth Opera Festival 2014 Watertower Contemporary Theatre of Dallas Shakespeare in Hollywood Treasures Celebrating 30 Years of Dance Ma Rainy's Black Bottom Irving Arts Center Hunting and Gathering Cliburn Andrea Bocelli in Concert High School Musical Theatre Awards Nunsense Galatea Theatre Three Dallas Opera 2014-2015 Season Fort Worth Opera Festival 2014 Watertower Contemporary Theatre of Dallas Shakespeare in Hollywood Treasures Celebrating 30 Years of Dance Ma Rainy's Black Bottom Irving Arts Center Hunting and Gathering Cliburn Andrea Bocelli in Concert High School Musical Theatre Awards Nunsense Galatea Theatre Three Dallas Opera 2014-2015 Season Fort Worth Opera Festival 2014 Watertower Contemporary Theatre of Dallas Shakespeare in Hollywood Treasures Celebrating 30 Years of Dance Ma Rainy's Black Bottom Irving Arts Center Hunting and Gathering Cliburn Andrea Bocelli in Concert High School Musical Theatre Awards Nunsense Galatea Theatre Three Dallas Opera 2014-2015 Season Fort Worth Opera Festival 2014 Watertower Contemporary Theatre of Dallas Shakespeare in Hollywood Treasures Celebrating 30 Years of Dance Ma Rainy's Black Bottom Irving Arts Center Hunting and Gathering Cliburn Andrea Bocelli in Concert High School Musical Theatre Awards Nunsense Galatea Theatre Three Dallas Opera 2014-2015 Season Fort Worth Opera Festival 2014 Watertower Contemporary Theatre of Dallas Shakespeare in Hollywood Treasures Celebrating 30 Years of Dance Ma Rainy's Black Bottom Irving Arts Center Hunting and Gathering Cliburn Andrea Bocelli in Concert High School Musical Theatre Awards Nunsense Galatea Theatre Three Dallas Opera 2014-2015 Season Fort Worth Opera Festival 2014 Watertower Contemporary Theatre of Dallas Shakespeare in Hollywood Treasures Celebrating 30 Years of Dance Ma Rainy's Black Bottom Irving Arts Center Hunting and Gathering Cliburn Andrea Bocelli in Concert High School Musical Theatre Awards Nunsense Galatea Theatre Three Dallas Opera 2014-2015 Season Fort Worth Opera Festival 2014 Watertower Contemporary Theatre of Dallas Shakespeare in Hollywood Treasures Celebrating 30 Years of Dance Ma Rainy's Black Bottom Irving Arts Center Hunting and Gathering Cliburn Andrea Bocelli in Concert High School Musical Theatre Awards Nunsense Galatea Theatre Three Dallas Opera 2014-2015 Season Fort Worth Opera Festival 2014 Watertower Contemporary Theatre of Dallas Shakespeare in Hollywood Treasures Celebrating 30 Years of Dance Ma Rainy's Black Bottom Irving Arts Center Hunting and Gathering Cliburn Andrea Bocelli in Concert High School Musical Theatre Awards Nunsense Galatea Theatre Three Dallas Opera 2014-2015 Season Fort Worth Opera Festival 2014 Watertower Contemporary Theatre of Dallas Shakespeare in Hollywood Treasures Celebrating 30 Years of Dance Ma Rainy's Black Bottom Irving Arts Center Hunting and Gathering Cliburn Andrea Bocelli in Concert High School Musical Theatre Awards Nunsense Galatea Theatre Three Dallas Opera 2014-2015 Season Fort Worth Opera Festival 2014 Watertower Contemporary Theatre of Dallas Shakespeare in Hollywood Treasures Celebrating 30 Years of Dance Ma Rainy's Black Bottom Irving Arts Center Hunting and Gathering Cliburn Andrea Bocelli in Concert High School Musical Theatre Awards Nunsense Galatea Theatre Three Dallas Opera 2014-2015 Season Fort Worth Opera Festival 2014 Watertower Contemporary Theatre of Dallas Shakespeare in Hollywood Treasures Celebrating 30 Years of Dance Ma Rainy's Black Bottom Irving Arts Center Hunting and Gathering Cliburn Andrea Bocelli in Concert High School Musical Theatre Awards Nunsense Galatea Theatre Three Dallas Opera 2014-2015 Season Fort Worth Opera Festival 2014 Watertower Contemporary Theatre of Dallas Shakespeare in Hollywood Treasures Celebrating 30 Years of Dance Ma Rainy's Black Bottom Irving Arts Center Hunting and Gathering Cliburn Andrea Bocelli in Concert High School Musical Theatre Awards Nunsense Galatea Theatre Three Dallas Opera 2014-2015 Season Fort Worth Opera Festival 2014 Watertower Contemporary Theatre of Dallas Shakespeare in Hollywood Treasures Celebrating 30 Years of Dance Ma Rainy's Black Bottom Irving Arts Center Hunting and Gathering Cliburn Andrea Bocelli in Concert High School Musical Theatre Awards Nunsense Galatea Theatre Three Dallas Opera 2014-2015 Season Fort Worth Opera Festival 2014 Watertower Contemporary Theatre of Dallas Shakespeare in Hollywood Treasures Celebrating 30 Years of Dance Ma Rainy's Black Bottom Irving Arts Center
Click or Swipe to close
reviews
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
audiocasts
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
contests
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
crowdfunding
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
studio
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web



Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:


Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:


TheaterJones Section:


Category:
Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Search
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  



Your Name:
Your Email Adress:


please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :
Submit