George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

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The Pennsylvania Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker is a feast for the eyes and ears. The show is as much Balanchine’s as it is the Ballet’s and Beatrice Jona Affron’s “Orchestra of the Pennsylvania Ballet,” which flawlessly executes Tchaikovsky’s legendary score. And to be clear, this is a little bit of a looser, more child-friendly affair. There are children everywhere—in the show, in the aisles, in the seat next to you asking “Who’s that?” But they’re in Christmas formal wear, asking in tiny 5-year-old voices. It’s adorable.

Ballet companies across the country reportedly make 40 percent of their annual ticket sales with The Nutcracker runs, and why wouldn’t they? The endless dancers, the hundreds of costumes—It’s one of the finest holiday traditions in the world for a reason. In Pennsylvania Ballet’s staging, which premiered earlier this month, the most stunning feats of athleticism and execution of technical prowess come from the first act’s toys and soldier (Leah Hirsch, Marria Cosentino and Amir Yogev) and the second act’s dreamlike suite that includes the Sugarplum Fairy (Elizabeth Mateer) and her cavalier (Lorin Mathis). The second act’s “Land of Sweets” brilliantly showcases the Asian Tea dancers, the Arabian Coffee dancer and the Russian Candy Cane dancers. The sets were stunning, all the way down to Mother Ginger’s birth of the polichinelles.

With The Nutcracker’s fill of gift-giving, eloquent fake snowfall and childlike dreamscapes, Christmas spirit is certainly in the air. At least until Sunday’s final curtain. / B.C.

Through Dec. 29. Various times. $25-$125. With RK$TDY. 240 S. Broad St. paballet.org

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EVENT DETAILS

WHEN
Monday, December 23, 2013
Recurring: ONCE

TIME & PRICE
- Price: Unknown

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