The Media City Ballet The Nutcracker Review - A Performance for Children and Adults

The Media City Ballet of Los Angeles presents Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Classic Holiday Ballet, The Nutcracker.  The Media city ballet is in their 7th Season.  It was a performance for children and adults.  The ballet definitely set the mood for the holidays, featuring a cast of 70 award winning dancers, visual illusions, special effects and aerialists.

 The story was originally written in 1892.  The Nutcracker tells the story of a young girl’s dream that came to life.

In a warm festive home is where Act I began.  The stage was a manifest of dancers of all ages enjoying a Christmas Eve party, hosted by Counselor Silberhaus (Moses Navarro).  Children danced around in awe at all of the other children that were at the party. 

When Herr Drosselmeyer (Craig Dickens) arrives with his nephew, Hans Peter (Edgar Nikolyan), all eyes are on them.  They brought many mechanical toys for all of the children to play with.  One of the young girls, Clara (Mira Nastassja Allmeyer), is Drosselmeyer’s godchild.  Clara wants to keep one of the dancing toys, but is instructed by her mother to give it to the other children. 

Clara is very sad about this, but her godfather has a special gift for her.  Sadness turns to joy when Drosselmeyer presents Clara with a Nutcracker.  At this point, Clara does a very joyous dance all about the stage with her new toy.  Her costume is a beautiful pink nightgown which flows perfect as she celebrates. 

The Nutcracker gets placed in his doll bed for the evening.  The party came to a close with everyone participating in the Grandfather Dance.  The extravagant gowns worn by the women throughout this scene added onto the amazing performance.

Clara and a friend that she invited to stay over, and everyone goes to sleep aside from Claras’ brother Fritz (Griffin Armstorff).  He wants to play a trick on his sister and hide the Nutcracker

After awhile, Clara and her friend awake, to go downstairs to get her Nutcracker doll.  A Grandfather clock that is displayed on stage suddenly has two glowing owl eyes.  The clock brought a chilly feel to the moment.  At this point, Clara is left alone in darkness as her friend runs off with her light. 

Although Clara appears scared, she still is going to search for her doll.  After finding her doll, she holds onto him and hugs him with both hands.  The clock strikes 12 and the face of Drosselmeyer appears.  Clara runs to the couchette and falls asleep, clutching her doll.  She begins to dream.  This is where Drosselmeyer begins to magically direct her dream. 

At this point of the production, the Christmas tree grows and grows to new heights.  This was very well done and there were no glitches.  The soldiers and the Nutcracker (Edgar Nikolyan) begin to come to life.  Magic took over the stage as the dream unfolded. 

Drosselmeyer suddenly makes the doll disappear once again and the only thing left on the stage is silence and some scurrying mice.  Then an entire pack of rats and a Rat King (Sergey Kheylik) come to stage.  The wardrobe of these rats must be commended.  The rats eyes lit up and their appearance created an eerie set. 

The rats danced around stage which was quite amazing, since it is hard to imagine what their visibility around one another may be like.  The rats were trying to eat Clara.  The Nutcracker and the soldiers appear once again to battle the rats.  The battle itself was full of life and even some stunts were thrown in.  Finally, the battle ends as the rats are seen carrying their leader off stage, for he has lost.

The Nutcracker thanks Clara for saving him and invites her to what they call the Land of Sweets and the Palace of the Sugar Plum Fairy.  Clara, the Nutcracker Prince and Drosselmeyer take off to this magical land. 

On their journey, the stage turns into a snowy forest.  The trees and lighting made it very easy to follow the story.  The Snow Queen (Carrie Lee Riggins)  and King (Arsen Serobian) come into the story and perform a dance, with the stage once again coming to a magical point.  Clara and the others are welcome to come through the White Forest, The Land of the Snow. 

Act I ended at this point for an intermission and a bathroom break.  They also had a raffle going on, and the winner received a dazzling crown.  I must say that the sound system was quite poor in the first Act, with a lot of feedback and static.

As Act II began, it was clear that the sound was top notch and the stage was ready to carry on with the ballet.  The set was in the Land of Sweets and there were many confections everyone.  The color choice and costumes set the stage for what was to come throughout this act.

Clara, the Nutcracker Prince and Drosselmeyer are warmly welcomed by the Land of Sweets.  Dancing Sugar Angels and a Sugar Plum Fairy smoothly move across stage.  The story of how they came to be in the Land of Sweets is told and a celebration begins.

The acrobatics, gymnastics and performances that were to follow were one of the many highlights of the evening!  The Spanish, Chinese, Arabian and Russian Dancers…oh no, there is more.  Mother Gingers’ and her Punchinella’s were adorable as they crawled under Mother Gingers dress.  The Dew Drop Fairy and her Cavalier and many flowers begin the Waltz of the Flowers.  Last but not least at all, were the Sugar Plum Fairy and Prince Koklash who did quite a number. 

It was now time for everyone to say goodbye, and Clara soon returns to her bed.  This was a dream that she will always remember. 

At the close of Act II, we see Clara in her bed which is set off to the side of the stage.  The blocking for the entire performance painted the picture of the story and was done very well. 

The dancing left much of the audience with their mouths open as they watched in awe.  The flexibility and the grace that all of the performers displayed, was breathtaking.  This was a magical evening that will not be forgotten.

Natasha Middleton was the Artistic Director, Choreographer and Director.  Producing the show was Elmarie Wendel, a television and theatre actress.

The staging was done in the tradition of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.  Costumes were coordinated by Chisato DuBose and Anna Leiker.  Set designs we done by Bob Davies of Walt Disney Feature Animation and artists from Universal Features Animation.

An extra treat was in store for everyone as well.  A mini-concert featuring singers from the Taft High School Vocal Ensemble set the mood of the Holidays 15 minutes before the ballet.  They were directed by Tom Pease.

The production was sponsored by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Mrs. May Hannon, The Frank and Rigmor Peloso Trust Fund, The William H. Hannon Foundation, the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, The James A. Doolittle Foundation, Target, Macy*s, County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, North Advertising, Gangi Development, Americas United Bank, Woodbury Universidty, Glendale News-Press, Burbank Leader, San Fernando Valley Sun, Valley Scene Magazine, La Canada Valley Sun, La Crescenta Sun, Pasadena Weekly, Pasadena Magazine, Nor Gyank, Asbarez, Massis Weekly, The Armenian Reporter, San Marine Tribune, Panorama Media Group, Armenian Media Group of America, Inc., Horizon 24-Hour Armenian Television, www.dancechanneltv.com, Pip Printing, See’s Candies, The Alex Theatre, www.Innkeepsvegas.com, Damon’s Restaurant, Porto’s Restaurant and the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of America

For more information on the Media City Ballet, please visit www.mediacityballet.org or www.myspace.com/mediacityballet .  For more information on the Alex Theatre, as well as upcoming performances, go to www.alextheatre.org

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