Follow by Email

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Live music drives 'Nutcracker' fans to Manassas




Manassas Ballet Theatre's 2012 production of The Nutcracker/2011, B. Payden Photography, LLC
 
It's sad that in Washington, D.C., live music accompanied only two ballet companies for their 2012 Nutcracker performances, and one was 30 miles away.
 
Peter Tchaikovsky's Christmas ballet was played on tape for the rest of the dances that I found, including the Washington Ballet's production at the Warner Theatre which Sarah Kaufman criticized in a Washington Post article.
 
The sounds from a junior high or high school orchestra would be preferable to tape.
 
The only companies featuring live orchestras were Ballet West at the Kennedy Center and the Manassas Ballet Theatre at the Hylton Performing Arts Center on the Prince William campus of George Mason University. Please correct me if I am wrong, and an abbreviated production is not the same.  

Yes, it cost more money to have real music. Yes, it is worth it.
 
For some Tchaikovsky enthusiasts, music is more important than ballet which may partially explain the consistent sell-out crowds in Manassas and why about half the audience came from outside Prince William and Loudoun counties, according to a show of hands at intermission requested by Mark Wolfe, the company's executive director.
 
It was worth every mile for the hike out to Manassas to listen. And to see.

Sara Gaydash and Aleksey Kudrin in Manassas Ballet Theatre's 2012 production of The Nutcracker/2011, B. Payden Photography, LLC

Manassas has its very own Manassas Ballet Theatre Orchestra, under the direction of Christopher Hite, to help it put on a really big, but charming, show.
 
Not only did real music add sparkle to an evening's enchantment, but the many young, adorable dancers added magic to the professionals' performances.

Manassas Ballet Theatre's 2012 production of The Nutcracker/2011, B. Payden Photography, LLC

 
It seemed like hundreds of little mice and rats swarmed the stage, costumed (Christina Brooks and Donna Huffman Pelot) in grey outfits from head to toe with long tails and rats' heads, dancing in fast, curving lines, and whoops, there goes a fallen mouse, but not to mind. Other opportunities soon presented themselves to upright topsy-turvy.

Manassas Ballet Theatre's 2012 production of The Nutcracker/2011, B. Payden Photography, LLC
 
Other stars of the show were, naturally, Bethany Cooke ("Clara") enjoying her first season with the Manassas company, Margaret Hannah (the Sugar Plum Fairy), Joshua Burnham (the Nutcracker), Sara Gaydash (the Snow Queen), Aleksey Kudrin (the Snow King), William Smith (the Mouse King) and, with Kathryn Carlson, (the Russians).

Bethany Cooke ("Clara") in Manassas Ballet Theatre's 2012 production of The Nutcracker/2011, B. Payden Photography, LLC


William Smith and Kathryn Carlson in Manassas Ballet Theatre's 2012 production of The Nutcracker/2011, B. Payden Photography, LLC
 
At intermission Mr. Wolfe was effusive in his praise of Macy's sponsorship whose divisional manager was invited onstage to address the audience as "you guys." 

The advertisement did not detract from the entertaining evening which introduced many first-timers to excellent quality, surprising for a town with a population right under 40,000, and just down the road from many things to do in Washington, D.C.



patricialesli@gmail.com


No comments: