Guest Post Contributed by Eshena D. Roman
The red carpet rolled out once again at the Fabulous Fox Theatre for the season premiere of the holiday classic, the Atlanta Ballet's "The Nutcracker." Seeing the Nutcracker is a time-honored tradition for many families in the country, but seems to be particularly embraced by those in the Atlanta area. The 2013 season opener ushered in the 54th straight year of this production for the Atlanta Ballet, and is presented by Belk.
When I first laid eyes on the intricately painted stage, I instantly remembered being a little girl, exposed to The Nutcracker for the first time via a live performance aired on the local PBS station. This evening, I would have the opportunity to see this beloved childhood memory come to life, graceful creatures expertly contorting their bodies and propelling themselves in the air. My expectations were high, and the superbly talented cast did not disappoint.
Attendees of the premiere night were treated to Drew Thomas, an illusionist with a stout resume, in a two-week stint as the mysterious character Herr Drosselmeyer. Wherever he goes, merriment and mischief seem to follow. Drosselmeyer opens the show and upon seeing the flourish of his hand command a handkerchief to fly, you know something magical is about to begin.
The richly embellished set and costumes transport us to 19th Century Russia, where we are welcomed into the home of the Petrov family gathered in celebration on Christmas Eve. The opening scenes in the Petrov home, although at times awkward, set the jubilant tone and allow us to meet our protagonist Young Marya. We follow Marya, portrayed perfectly by Alessa Rogers, on her journey with Drosselmeyer to a land filled with raging rodents, life sized dancing dolls and the infamous Nutcracker. The skilled dancers breathe life into composer Tchaikovsky’s famous score, with standout performances by Rachel Van Buskirk as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Christian Clark as Cavalier. The show takes you on a rollercoaster ride, the hypnotic beauty of the Spanish and Arabian dance sequences juxtaposed by the infectious fun of the Mother Matrushka routine and the Trepak trio.
Act I came to a close with the angelic sounds of the Georgia Youth Choir and the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra, snow lightly falling over the audience. I couldn’t help but smile and attempt to grab an errant flake floating by. Perhaps that is why despite its many reproductions and its century plus old story, audiences across America continue to line up for this production. Whether you are 10, 30, or 60, the whimsy and fantasy of the Atlanta Ballet’s The Nutcracker appeals to the child in all of us. If you haven’t already, grab a friend or your family and go see this show before it leaves the Fox Theater on December 29.