Any Nutcracker purporting to be on a professional level but using, say, 25 dancers, would look rather spare and would probably require using a fair number of those dancers in many roles, which would be very difficult on them and risk increasing injury rates.
It always feels wonderful to have the professionality of one's company publicly questioned by someone who does not know it. Our Nutcracker has 20-25 dancers. It is often described as "intimate" by the press, but rarely "spare". We also have one of the lowest injury rates in the industry. Maybe it would look sparse on the Wang stage, but we've never put it up there. The fact is, a performance on a smaller stage in a smaller auditorium doesn't require as many dancers to fill it up.
In any case, hiring more dancers would not be a problem for Boston Ballet. As was pointed out earlier, they only hired 2% of the dancers who came to audition. They could easily hire another 2% for Nutcracker if they wanted to, just like Radio City hires its dancers for the Christmas season. Good dancers are easy to come by. Since dancer salaries are only a tiny fraction of a production's budget, hiring more dancers for the same number of ticket sales wouldn't necessarily blow the budget. (The scenery costs an ENORMOUS amount, and many of these costs are recurring. In past years, advertising has tried to wow us by telling us how many tons of confetti were used for the snow scene --- and then not recycled. I wonder how much that costs...)
I wasn't saying that the Wang Center is the largest auditorium in the country, although it is certainly one of the bigger ones. I WAS saying that BB's Nutcracker is the largest Nutcracker in terms of TICKET SALES.
Maybe what it comes down to is that the ticket prices for a travelling road show like the Rockettes Radio City Music Hall thing are potentially higher
I have a hard time believing that the ticket price for the Rockettes will be any higher than for Boston Ballet's Nutcracker. Nutcracker tickets already run about $90 for good seats, even $36 for lousy seats. That is more than NYCB, more than ABT, more than any show I've ever seen on Broadway. Probably that's because there is less competition than in NYC. I just cannot imagine the market bearing anything more than $90 per ticket at this point.
More likely is that the Rockettes have reigned in production costs. They pay their dancers very well. But orchestra, sets, etc. are probably all on a MUCH smaller scale.
so Boston Ballet shouldn't be looked down upon for doing some performances at the Wang and some elsewhere
I agree entirely. However, that is not their problem with the Nutcracker --- they can still sell plenty of Nutcracker seats, probably enough to justify the Wang Center for them. However, what is the Wang Center to do the rest of the year with such a big theater?
In general, the entertainment and media industry seems to be moving toward more choices, each one in a smaller venue. Big screen cinemas have given way to multiplexes. ABC/CBS/NBC has given way to 250 Cable channels. And I really, really believe that the future of ballet (and live theater in general) lies in a larger number of smaller productions.
Along the lines of choice, here's an idea for those who like the Holiday show but are sick and tired of seeing the Nutcracker for the hundredth year in a row... BB could produce MORE THAN ONE Holiday show. One could be a scaled-back Nutcracker. The other could be something else with a Holiday theme. It could certainly backfire if done wrong, but it could also bring back customers who used to see the Nutcracker but got bored of it after a decade. And the real dance afficiandos would buy tickets to both...
We have a definite shortage of theater space in Boston. We need more small-to-midsize theaters, and we need them more in places like Cambridge. The articles seem to indicate that part of the problem is with the Wang Center itself --- that they have a hard time paying their own bills.
Mel, do you know the address of the Tremont Street Theater? It isn't Tremont Temple Baptist Church, is it? That was always a church... (but is now facing the same problem as the Wang Center, that of filling the seats). Look at it on the bright side, in Cambridge we converted a Baptist Church into a theater.