Hi Alexandra! Actually, I've posted a bunch on the parents forum, so I recognize yours (and many other) names.
Yes, it's an Edwardian-set-in-San-Francisco production. The second act is less cutsie and more elegantly beautiful. The dancing was beautiful, especially on opening night, but I'm not one of those people who can judge technical prowess (I tend to look for expressionism and artistry over technical perfection, which is why I really liked Megan Low in the role of Sylvia last Spring).
There are lots of spoilers in this post, so don't read if you want to be surprised.
For me the highlights would be:
- The slide show at the very beginning showing photos of 1915 San Francisco. The last photo zooms in on a particular storefront - Drosselmeyer's shop. The curtain rises and there is Drosselmeyer in his shop. Very clever transition.
- Drosselmeyer is very magical. Some Drosselmeyers are creepy or almost pediophiliac. This one is very benign and magical. He performs magic tricks for the party children. During the second act it's Drosselmeyer who keeps company with Clara, rather than the Prince. (The Prince escorts her to the fantasy land, then she's with Drosselmeyer until the child Clara is replaced by the adult Clara (who was Tina LeBlanc on opening night.) At that point the Prince (Gonzalo Garcia on opening night) comes back and they dance their endless pas de deux. Really, I think it's still TOO LONG. Though it was beautifully danced. I saw a different couple dance it on Sunday and there were several technical errors that had me a bit worried. (I feel so badly for the dancers when they have problems.)
- The beautiful Edwardian costumes on the adults in the party scene. The girls wear those Edwardian drop-waisted dresses which I don't find particularly flattering. The boys wear knicker-type suits.
- The transition to the oversized furniture just before the mice arrive was really amazing and the audience gasped with delight. Drosselmeyer comes on, makes Clara's sofa spin in a circle around the floor and waives the original scene away and magicks the tree to grow. Then an ENORMOUS credenza slides in from the left, an ENORMOUS fireplace (carrying the full sized Nutcracker who had been placed by the fire) slides in from the right. ENORMOUS packages slide in along the back (secretly containing some mice). Some of this scenery weighs 2000 pounds.
- The fight scene was one of my favorite scenes with children. It was very exciting and funny. The soldiers arrive when the Nutcracker orders the credenza door to open, like the gangplank of the ship, and the soldiers march down. Clara directs the soldiers to catch the mouse king with a giant mousetrap. The mouse king's death/exit is quick and effective. (He falls headfirst through a hole in the floor.)
- In general the scenery is constantly changing and you want to keep watching it. One of the most breathtakingly beautiful scenes is the Snow scene. Yuan Yuan Tan danced the part of Snow Queen on opening night. I noticed when I saw the production again on Sunday that one of the snowflakes was missing her crown. I was mesmerized, looking for that crown. Did it fall off and was hidden in the snow? Was she late and didn't have time to get it on? I'll never know.
- The Snow Queen and King arrive on the most beautiful sleigh, drawn by 4 horses. Those horse costumes are beautiful. Later, the horses withdraw and the sleigh is turned around and becomes Clara's chair.
- The second Act opens on a scene of bugs (students). The curtain opens on 4 little ladybugs (the youngest) and 8 butterflies. Then 4 dragonflies leap on (one of those is my 12-year-old) and they have a beautiful dance. Then they form a corridor and the Flower Fairy enters (Muriel Maffre on opening night). A bit later the flowers enter and then the sleigh containing Clara and the Prince. The Prince re-enacts the fight scene and Clara's part in it as the bugs and flowers watch admiringly. The costumes worn by the bugs are especially beautiful and my daughter was thrilled to be able to dance with her hair down. The dragonflies wear wings with a 4-foot wing span (boy, they had trouble maneuvering with those backstage the first time they wore them).
- I especially liked the Merletons in the second act. They hold pink ribbons as they dance (I hear it's a very difficult dance, thanks to those ribbons) and their dance is reminiscent of a can-can. On Sunday, Amanda Schull was the center merleton. On Sunday's performance one of the Merlteton's ribbon got hopelessly tangled up. It's very tricky to keep those ribbons moving, but I hope they can figure it out because it's very pretty and I'd hate to see them delete the ribbons.
- The Russian dance is basically the same - always a huge crowd pleaser. Except this time the dancers explosively emerge from 3 huge Fabrege eggs.
- Mother Ginger (my daughter's first role 4 years ago) has been replaced by Madame du Cirque. It's the same man in the dress, but this time it's a 3-pointed circus tent and the 8 children are adorable little clowns. Inside the tent is a charming little bear who is very roley poley and cute.
That's basically the highlights. Overall the production was very clever, very beautiful, very polished. Helgi did an amazing job. Kudos to him.
Edited by sfshaza, 20 December 2004 - 10:20 AM.