Returning for its 26th season in Seattle, the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker ushered in the holiday season last weekend to an enthusiastic audience. Created by Kent Stowell and Maurice Sendak (author and illustrator of Where the Wild Things Are) TheNutcracker has been a holiday tradition for Seattle families for many years. And this year, it can be counted on again to be the fun, whimsical, but also powerful experience that has charmed Washington for decades.
The crown jewel of the show is the world that Sendak creates with his costumes and sets. Each piece is intricate and detailed—upon close examination, mice line the frescoes of Clara’s house, Where the Wild Things Are-like monsters can be found in the backdrops at the start of Act Two, and his sets vary in style from European to Oriental to the bizarre. It is this intricacy and detail, combined with his vibrant but simple style that makes Nutcracker come alive in a world formed of the same imagination that whisks Clara away.
Combined with Tchaikovsky’s timeless score, Stowell’s choreography, and a small army of excited PNB School students, the production takes off. Building off of boundless energy and passion, you cannot help but be drawn into the spirit and cheer of it all.
I had the chance to dance for three years in the PNB’s Nutcracker several years back, and the experience defines Nutcracker for me every time I have seen it since. From the first time I saw it, dancing in the Nutcracker was my childhood dream, and I entered the PNB school just to be in Nutcracker. Now, when I return to Nutcracker, I am captivated just as I was when I was four.
In the end, Nutcracker continues to be a tradition for just this reason. Not just any show can make you remember how to dream and feel like a kid again, year after year after year. Uniquely heartfelt and touching, words do not describe what it is like to experience it, and cannot even come close to the joy of coming back again. Nutcracker creates a world that for a few hours you will be blessed to fall into; and when the curtain closes, you will be just as sad to go as Clara.
Pacific Northwest Ballet'sThe Nutcracker plays at McCaw Hall now through December 30th.
Please note that this production is NOT Teen Tix eligible.