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The Nutcracker and the Rat King for The Washington Ballet’s The Nutcracker (2022). Photo by Spencer Bentley.
From the classical music to the glittery costumes to the dazzling stage sets, “The Nutcracker” is a quintessential holiday show that awes audience members of all ages. As adults, we catch ourselves reminiscing about the magic of childhood, or preparing our spirits for the holiday season. Some, whether parents or friends, might be anxiously awaiting to cheer on dancers they know and love. Of course, there are the children, completely enthralled by the fluidity of the ballerinas under the bright theater lights.
…a spectacular sight to see…a lovely way to close out the year, enjoy a holiday classic, and appreciate how much time and dedication goes into perfecting one’s art.
Whatever brings you to the Warner Theatre this holiday season, The Washington Ballet’s 2022 run of “The Nutcracker” is a spectacular sight to see. A tradition since 1892, this production continues to resonate with audience members young and old. While the story line generally remains the same, the setting (1882 Georgetown) reflects some of the sights still appreciated to this day (the Mall, the Potomac River, the famous cherry blossoms by the Tidal Basin, etc.). Similarly, the costumes during the infamous fight scene bring us back to the Revolutionary War, with George Washington as the hero and England’s King George III as the Rat King.
Featuring over 100 dancers, from company members to budding students of all ages, “The Nutcracker” is a delightful way to spend an evening this month. While the dancers alternate roles each night, the December 1 audience had the pleasure of watching the very graceful Amaya Joseph as Clara. Her poise and facial expressions put her right at home with the company dancers. The Snow Queen, danced by Alexa Torres, had much of the audience mesmerized in the first act. She made pointe look so easy to do. In the second act, one could quite literally hear a pin drop during the Anacostian duet, danced by Nardia Boodoo and Rafael Bejarno. And then of course, there were the magnificent duets and solos by the Sugar Plum Fairy (Adelaide Clauss) and the Cavalier (Gian Carlo Perez).
Ensemble and cast of”The Nutcracker” (2021), The Washington Ballet. Photo by xmbphotography.
A few additional moments stood out to the children in the audience. The battle scene was a big hit, especially when the King Rat fell injured and the Red Coat Rats brought out a stretcher to take him away, posing dramatically. In the second act, the dancers miming in the fishing scene and clown scene also brought some laughter from the younger ones in the crowd.
From a choreography standpoint, there was so much to appreciate! The arrival of the party guests, the children weaving in and out showcasing their toys, and the incorporation of ribbons. Septime Webre definitely kept the audience interested and attentive throughout the show, and all of the dancers moved across the stage without a hitch.
As you take your seat, you immediately notice the set design from either side of the stage. Once the curtains rise, you realize there’s so much that Peter Horne put into each scene, with colorful changes coming from above, behind, and the sides. The family Christmas tree turning into the magical forest was so much fun to watch. The set also made it very clear when Clara and her Prince travel to Springtime, with a moving boat and lights mimicking the river water.
From the rat masks to the Chinese fish to the little mushrooms and butterflies, Costume Designer Judanna Lynn made each and every dancer shine on stage. The colors, the glitter, the feathers—any dancer in the audience surely had some costume envy while watching those performing.
All in all, “The Nutracker” is a lovely way to close out the year, enjoy a holiday classic, and appreciate how much time and dedication goes into perfecting one’s art. An evening (or afternoon) well spent!
Running Time: Two hours with a 25-minute intermission
“The Nutcracke,r” presented by The Washington Ballet, runs through December 30, 2022 at the Warner Theatre, 513 13th St NW, Washington, DC 20004. More information and tickets are available online. Upcoming special events include The Nutcracker Tea Party (December 4), Military Appreciation Night (December 7) and Family Day (December 11). Performances are offered Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sundays at 1p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Katie Gaab is an avid concert and theatregoer, bouncing between DC and Baltimore to appreciate the arts. Outside of MD Theatre Guide, she spends her time studying dance, learning foreign languages and checking out way too many books from the public library.
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