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'Nutcracker' at Philadelphia's Academy of Music still a treat after all these years


It was opening weekend of the Pennsylvania Ballet in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker at the Academy of Music, and I couldn’t have been happier.Photos by Alexander Iziliaev.

I do believe this was quite possibly the best performance of The Nutcracker™ that I have ever watched, and I’ve seen (and performed in) The Nutcracker™ at least 50 times!

While I was excited to be at (one of) their opening weekend shows, the dancers seemed especially excited and happy to be on the stage performing. Seeing Lauren Fadeley as the Sugarplum Fairy and her Cavalier (Francis Veyette) was an experience in and of itself!

Their gracefulness, combined with her attention to detail and amazing beauty on stage blew me away. The same goes for young Marie and Fritz, her annoying little brother, and all their friends.  Later in the night, after Marie receives her special Nutcracker gift, those creepy little mice scurrying about their leader (the Mouse King) never fails to scare me. I was always a little afraid for the young soldiers fighting against those mice for Marie’s honor, but in the end you know who triumphs!

Fun Fact: Pennsylvania Ballet is one of the few companies to use a hydraulic tree that operates with the push of a button. The current tree was designed by David P. Gordon and created by Adirondack Scenic, Inc. for its debut in December 2000. This tree transforms on stage!!

In it’s 43rd year, George Balanchine's The Nutcracker™ is an experience for the family not to be missed this holiday season.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ is a truly unique holiday experience,” Artistic Director Roy Kaiser  says. “The combination of world-class artistry and magical charm makes this production like no other.”Photos by Alexander Iziliaev.

The orchestra, brilliantly led by conductor Beatrice Jona Affron, created beautiful music for the dancers to perform to.

The entire experience never fails to amaze me. I usually think the first act is my favorite. But for the first time, the second act was actually my favorite, as Marie and her Nutcracker wander through Konfituerenberg (The Land of the Sweets) with the dancing sugarplums, marzipan, candy canes, angels, polichinelles, dewdrop flowers, coffee, tea, hot chocolate with all the sweets. It truly spares no wonder at all this place has to offer!

Brooke Moore (Dewdrop) was exquisite, as well as the dancers, and from the smallest children’s part to Herr Drosselmeyer, every performer made me feel as if I was a part of Marie’s wonderful fantasy. My favorite of all is always the coffee dance, and this year it was no exception. The amazing Samantha Barczak was surprising and delighting.

Make The Nutcracker™ part of your holiday traditions each year. You can also check out the Macy's Light Show, Dickens Village, eat at Maggiano’s (such as I did) or go to the Reading Terminal Market  and fully experience Philadelphia during Christmas time and holidays!

•    Friday, December 16 at 7 p.m.
•    Saturday, December 17 at 11 a.m., 3 p.m., and 7 p.m.*
•    Sunday, December 18 at noon and 4 p.m.*
•    Thursday, December 22 at 7 p.m.*
•    Friday, December 23 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
•    Saturday, December 24 at noon
•    Monday, December 26 at noon and 4 p.m.*
•    Tuesday, December 27 at 2 p.m.
•    Wednesday, December 28 at 2 p.m.
•    Thursday, December 29 at 2 p.m.
•    Friday, December 30 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
•    Saturday, December 31 at noon

*Nutcracker VIP Packages are available at these performances with unique perks such as a keepsake photo and more!  There are also great deals for groups of 10 or more. Contact Group Sales Manager Arajua Backman at 215.587.6921 or abackman@paballet.org  for more information.

You can also visit paballet.org or call 215.551.7000.

Christine Tarlecki is getting into the holiday spirit, or is gonna die trying! You can send her some Christmas cheer at engchik@me.com  or on FaceBook or Twitter under engchik.

Photos by Alexander Iziliaev.

Special thanks to Marissa Montenegro, Public Relations Manager!!