Nutcracker sparks Christmas spirit

The Nutcracker, a ballet that was first deemed a failure in 1892, captivated the audience and revived the holiday spirit during its opening night at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday in Bridges Auditorium.

Dancers of the Inland Pacific Ballet brought this old tradition alive. Princesses, fairies, ballerinas, children, and a Nutcracker twirled onstage while unveiling one of the greatest Christmas stories.

Empty chairs reached the blue curtains as only half of the seats were filled when the bells chimed announcing the start of the ballet.

Large Snowflakes projected onto the stage and ceiling as Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker suite resonated through the hall’s speakers.

A backdrop of a city in the 1800s appeared, as partygoers shuffled onstage busily trying to get to their destination. The scene transformed into a living room with an enormous Christmas tree lined with presents in the center.

The story unveiled with Herr Drosselmeyer, played by Eric Shah, elegantly waving his red and black cape with brisk movements as he presented enchanting gifts at a party. A life-sized winding ballerina and a soldier doll danced with robot-like movements. The final surprise, a nutcracker, was revealed and given to Clara Stahlbaum, Herr Drosselmeyer’s godchild.

Too excited to sleep Clara, who was played by Emily Albert, snuck downstairs to play with her nutcracker, and a world of wonder and excitement surrounded her at midnight, as large Christmas ornaments came down from the sky.

She participated in a heroic battle with soldiers against the mice and saved the Nutcracker from the vicious Mouse King. The Nutcracker transformed into a charming prince and carried Clara off in a sled to the Kingdom of Snow as several ballerinas danced in synchronization in white tutus. The performance featured more than 100 dancers in exquisite costumes.

Angels, the Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow Queen, Snow Princess, Dew Drop Fairy, Mother Ginger, Bon Bons, and dancers from all around the world welcomed Clara to this enchanting land.

Melvin Clark, Jose Gonzalez and Reece Taylor awed the audience with their Russian dance with phenomenal kicks, splits in the air and the helicopter break dancing move. Arabian soloists Alvon Reed and Laura Vail startled all with their held poses and robust movements, as did the Sugar Plum Fairy with her Cavalier, played by Sarah Spradlin and Christopher Bonomo.

Familiar tunes heard in Christmas commercials or movies such as Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy chimed through the air while fairies twirled and leaped.

A boutique in the hallway served as one of the biggest fundraisers for the theater company as nutcrackers, tiaras, wands and fairies were sold.

The Nutracker will be performed at Bridges Hall until Dec. 17. For more information visit www.thebestnutcracker.com or call (909) 607-1139.

Yelena Ovcharenko can be reached at yovcharenko@ulv.edu.

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