Waltz of the Snowflakes, Nutcracker, Pennsylvania Ballet (photo by Paul Kolnik)
The production has broad, colorful set backdrops and numerous special effects, including a couch and bed that glide about by themselves, a flying ship, and a little moving toe plate on which the Sugar Plum Fairy floats en pointe. Herr Drosselmaier (Maximilien Baud) is a more menacing figure than in other versions, stealing back into the house while Marie (Clara) is asleep. One factor that shifts this staging toward the children is the decision to cast the Prince (Nutcracker) as a child, the poised and sunny Peter Weil, who appears first as Drosselmeier's nephew at the party, returning later in Marie's dream. This approach had its physical limitations especially in the battle with the Mouse King (Nicolas Sipes) and his forces. The corps de ballet shone strongest in its lovely, unified women as the Snowflakes (Act I) and the Flowers (Act II), with strong solo performances from the Sugar Plum Fairy of Arantxa Ochoa, Meredith Reffner's curving, long-legged Coffee (the Arabian dancer -- the Chinese dancers' scene is called Tea), and the Mirlitons of Abigail Mentzer and colleagues (called the Marzipan Shepherdesses).
Sarah Kaufman, With this 'Nutcracker,' the magic is in the music (Washington Post, November 26)
Jean Battey Lewis, 'Nutcracker's' zestful magic sparks season (Washington Times, November 26)
Ellen Dunkel, Notching several firsts in the capital (Philadelphia Inquirer, November 27)
Three performances of Pennsylvania Ballet's production of Balanchine's Nutcracker remain at the Kennedy Center Opera House, today at 1:30 and 7:30 pm and tomorrow at 1:30 pm.