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Picking Nutcracker Tickets

Amy Reusch

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I believe I want to take my 5 year old daughter to Boston Ballet's Nut, but I'm not famliar with the production, the company or the Wang.

I'm taking her to Boston rather than to the local one in Hartford because Kirk Peterson's Nutcracker, although very beautiful, is not a traditional production, and she's been having me read her this children's novel "The Ballet Bug" over and over again, which is about a girl getting a part as a Polichinelle, so I'd like her to see a traditional Mother Ginger. I suppose I should take her to NYC to see Balanchine's because it matches the story, but it's so far away, (2.5+ hour drive) and not reasonably feasible as a day trip for a child just to see a show (too much sitting, I think)... it might really be the best option, but I'm hoping Boston Ballet's would fit the bill, particularly as this might be the last chance to see the current production.

Is there a Mother Ginger? Does she have polichinelles or gingerbread children? There weren't many Nut photos up at Boston Ballet's site, but it looks like there are gingerbread children at some point, and I assume it's during Mother Ginger? Here in Hartford, it's one of the best parts of the ballet, but they're all bees & flowers, with a giant spider flying in from above (I kid you not).

Is the Wang such a cave that it's inadvisable to take balcony seats?

I see the Wang & Boston Ballet have very strict rules about children in the theater (the "no lap sitting" rule surprised me, even though I'm one of those who dreads children in the audience, I don't agree with this one). Does the Wang have booster seats available for children? The Bushnell her in Hartford has those molded plastic seats most restaurants use stacked up next to the doors.

And finally the trick question: how does Boston Ballet tend to perform? Is Sunday Mat usually better than Saturday Mat? How about that 5:30 Sunday performance? How is the energy during the middle of the run... is there a better time of the month to see the show? I realize it's Nut and there are a myriad of different castings, but given that, is there a recommendation?

Curiously, my daughter doesn't seem to want to dance herself, but she keeps up this peripheral flirtation with the art form... choreographing "step patterns", picking out ballet themes at the library... I think she's afraid because me she might have to dance and doesn't want to but is still curious about the subject and why it shoud fascinate some people so. Because I love dance so much, and I know she's ambivalent toward it, I'm willing to go to some lengths to get a good ticket. It's not that I want her to become a dancer, I just want her to "get" it.

~ Amy

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Balanchine's Nut is performed in Stamford CT and uses local children along with the advanced students from SAB for most of the corps work. They faithfully bring in big names to do the pas de deux (I saw both Kent and Kistler in the past two years) and the audience is chock-full of children. The performance times are a bit strange, and I believe that the tickets are the same price for the entire venue (meaning: not too cheap). Perhaps this will be less of a hike for your Balanchine "fix"

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Hi, If I remember correctly (it's been about a year since I read it) Ballet Bug actually deals specifically with Boston Ballet's Nutcracker, so it should be perfect.

I was recently at the Wang at the very back (or top) of the balcony, and was surprised at how much detail I could see. I don't recommend it of course, but even if your seats are far away you'll be able to see more than you'd think.

I think maybe the mezanine seats are best, you can look down on the stage, but you're still close enough to see all the details.

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My favorite seats for children at the Wang are row D in the mezzanine. This is the last row of the mezzanine so children can stand up in their seats if they are having trouble seeing and not bother people behind them. There is an aisle/walkway and then the balcony starts.... Also you are closer to the stage than in many of the orchestra seats, and have a nice view of the patterns of the dance. I know dido didn't mind the back of the balcony but for me it is way too high and too far, and some of the visual effects of Nutcracker - tree growing, balloon flying - could be lost. I suppose row E in the balcony would be okay too, just a little farther and higher but with the aisle in front no heads to dodge.

In the Wang orchestra I prefer the side sections to the center - even though the center seats are staggered it seems to me the angle is better the way the seats are arranged - a better chance for seeing between heads. It is also slightly less expensive than the center section. If you can get side aisle seats (1,3 or 2,4) all the better. Some people who go a lot think row J or K are best. The Wang does have a web site and you can look at a seating chart there. There will be a lot of children in the audience, especially at a matinee, so it is likely you will have children in front of you too.

I don't recall the Wang offering booster seats. When we were taking little ones we had some contraptions that were made of cloth and velcro that could be attached to seat arms. I forget where we bought them.... The kids used them but I'm not sure they were really comfortable. And if you did put your child on your lap, you wouldn't be the only one. I think the point is more that each person needs to have a ticket for a seat, to keep occupancy legal among other reasons.

The Wang is usually very well decorated for the holiday, and I think there will be volunteers dressed as Nutcracker characters wandering around for children to meet, so plan to come a little early and enjoy the scene.

There is a Mother Ginger with polichinelles, that is one of the favorite parts of act II for youngsters (a little rest from all the dancing!) There are lots of children in the production, in both acts I and II - this is a child-oriented production. The gingerbread children you see in the photos are in act I, when "toy" versions of the characters who will dance in the second act are under the tree. There is some new choreography for act II but Mother Ginger will be that same.

I don't go to enough Nutcrackers to comment on which are the best performances to see. Sometimes it is easier to get good tickets for the performances after Christmas, if you can wait until then. We have gone both before and after Christmas Day and enjoyed it regardless of the day.

Sorry I can't help on the question of when to see it but if you have any other questions I'll try to help.

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PS With children, or any other shorter people, I'd avoid row A of the mezzanine. The wall in front is too tall and broad for smaller people to see over comfortably. I'm 5'6" and if we sit there I sometimes have to crane my neck to see dancer's feet if they are at the front of the stage. I've seen some pretty disappointed shorter people who thought the front row mezzanie would be great and discovered they couldn't see well. Then they lean forward and annoy the people in the rows behind who can't see past them etc. etc. Better to be in row B or farther back ....

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Thank you so very much, that was all very very helpful!

I forgot to ask one question... curiosity only, really, ...

Is the Boston Ballet's tree 3 dimensional or flat? I've been wishing I could find for her a 3D tree, but have had no luck so far. The flat ones aren't terribly impressive when they grow, in my experience... the 3D ones, on the other hand, are really quite magical.

I thought the Ballet Bug people studied dancers in New Rochelle, NY... but it's been a while since I read the credits... maybe that was just where some consultants were located... can't get at the book now without waking her... had to read it again tonight, but it nearly lost out to Pippi Longstocking... that girl in Graduation Ball always reminded me of Pippi!

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I don't know if the tree is flat or not, but it's really spectacular when it grows. Everything on the stage is pulled up and out and it's visually stunning. I also love NYCB's Nutcracker. To me, that one feels more "magical" than Boston's...not sure why. Both are exceptional. I would recommend the first row after the break in the orchestra for you. No one would be directly in front of her. I think the vantage point of looking up slightly at the stage during the first act is better than down from the balcony, where she may not see the full tree nor get the effect of it growing. The theater runs out of booster seats, so plan to arrive slightly early for one. Often BB has entertainment in the lobby, for example, local children caroling.

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The Boston Ballet Nutcracker tree is definiteley three dimentional with ornaments and all. They also use about 100 children in each performance. Costumes are absoluteley gorgeous. There is a wonderful Russian Bear which does a fun version of Trepak in the Party Scene. And Mother Ginger is wonderful. And a Mouse King that pops out of the audience. Definitely a must for children and adults to experience....also the Wang is a beautiful and ornate theater. I find the best seats for children at the Wang are in the first mezzanine, row P in the orchestra, and the Box seats. Also the characters of the Nutcracker mingle with the audience in the lobby before many of the performances, usually weekend matinees.

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Row P in the orchestra is the row behind the cross aisle, and it is nice not to have anyone sitting directly in front.... the box seats are the dress circle.

With regard to tickets, I doubt there are scalpers at work, but people do tend to get their tickets early, and with the uncertainty of where Nutcracker will be next year, and in the interest in showing support this year, sales are pretty good. That is why you might have more choice with a post 12/25 performance (though I haven't looked to see what is available when...)

I do hope you come. It is a nice experience, with the performance, the children in the audience, the decorations in the theater, etc. A very happy atmosphere.

PS Even though we've been telling you our favorite seats, that doesn't mean you wouldn't be happy in other seats. We were in row W left orch for the Kirov, farther back than we'd usually sit, and I was happy to find we had a good line of sight and were close enough to enjoy the dancers.... Being in the back of the orchestra section is better than being in the back of the balcony.

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There is an *in house* ticket office in the lobby of the Boston Ballet studios building on Clarendon Street. If you're far away try calling the main bb number and then ask for the operator to connect you to the box office in house. I always purchase tickets there and find them very accommodating.

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There are box seats in the very back of the orchestra seating at the Wang....I always thought the dress circle was the area between the orchestra and the mezzanine, up the first flight of stairs. Am I mistaken in my thinking?

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Eli, you are right, The dress circle is in the back and up, between orchestra and mezzanine, and there is a section of special box seats at the back of the orchestra. These are also the seats designated as accessible for handicapped and their companions. They have movable chairs instead of fixed seats which is nice for people who need extra leg room or want to move the chair a bit. Looking at the Wang seating chart, the dress circle boxes are designated by letters (box A, B, etc.) and the orchestra boxes by numbers (1,2, etc.).

Sorry for any confusion caused by my earlier reply.

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I'm afraid I didn't get the Boston Ballet in-house box office advice until too late... I'd gone to the library and used their high speed modems to crawl through telecharge's multiple screens and charge my card up a small fortune for tickets. Do you think the in-house had any different tickets to offer than what Telecharge had? I gave up trying for a particular night and tried for any kind of good visibility seat prior to 12/24. Found one in row B the Mezzanine finally... unfortunately off to the side, but I figure the closer, the better. Really, the show is very very well sold if the Telecharge site is any indication. I'm going on a Thursday, I hope the cast is enthusiastic.

By the way, I do find the seating chart confusing... I went and looked at the Wang's own site and took the 360 degree tour of the theater to figure it out... but... the Mezzanine seems to be the first 4 rows of what I would consider the first balcony, right? And the Dress Circle boxes, although below the balcony are further back than it? So if one tries for the 1st row of the balcony (forget it, not available on Telecharge), one is already sitting behind the rows of the Mezzanine, right?

And regarding Ballet Bug's location, you are probably right considering the author is listed on the flap as living in Brookline. The illustrator thanked a dance studio in Eastchester, NY (not too far from New Rochelle, I understand how I got mixed up).

I hope the "boy" polichinelles still do cartwheels and catch the girls! They went over this bit in great detail in the book.

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Row B in the mezzanine should be just fine. You will be closer to the stage than in the dress circle and many of the orchestra seats. (I forget which row the balcony overhangs in the orchestra.) You are right that the first row of the balcony is row E behind the mezzanine (which might have been called first balcony prior to theater renovation years ago). We used to have season tickets up there (row A and also row B) and liked it very much. Even if you are to the side the stage is quite large and there is lots going on all over. You should have a wonderful time!

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The polichinelle dance has changed a bit over the past few years--the most recent rechoreograph is by company member Gianni Di Marco--he often plays Mother Ginger and has a great relationship with the kids. Don't expect it to be just the same, but it's very sweet and shows a lot of personality.

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