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Nutcracker 2016

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Here's the link to the PNB website which has short videos of Elizabeth Murphy as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Noelani Pantastico as Dewdrop, the list of performances, and info about the production:



There's currently a 20% off discount and free handling through midnight PST on Sunday, 13 November on the following dates; the promo code is FLOWERS:

  • Fri, Nov 25 at 7:30pm
  • Sat, Nov 26 at 2:00pm and 7:30pm
  • Sun, Nov 27 at 12:30pm and 5:30pm
  • Fri, Dec 2 at 7:30pm
  • Sat, Dec 3 at 7:30pm
  • Sun Dec 4 at 5:30pm
  • Fri, Dec 9 at 7:30pm


PNB published this video with Sarah and Seth Orza, who are partners in the Balanchine "Nutcracker"



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Casting is up for 1st weekend (as always, subject to change), November 25-27:



Role debuts are:

  • Dewdrop:  Carrie Imler
  • Harlequin:  Madison Abeo, Angeli Mamon
  • Columbine:  Madison Abeo
  • Mouse King:  Dammiel Cruz
  • Hot Chocolate:  Angelica Generosa and Dammiel Cruz
  • Coffee:  Lesley Rausch
  • Candy Cane:  Jonathan Porretta

Here's the link to download the spreadsheet:

Nutcracker Casting 2016 11-16.xlsx


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This is the Balanchine production that premiered last season, after 30+ years of the Kent Stowell/Maurice Sendak version.  Last year's cast lists were all full of *'s for debuts.  Imler was off on parental leave last season, as was Lindsi Dec, and they both missed Nutcracker.  I don't see Rachel Foster, who had surgery last year and a long recovery, on the casting I captured from last season, but there's no * to indicate a debut this season (Marzipan).   Jonathan Porretta is also not on the casting spreadsheet I have from last season.


There was no Sugar Plum Fairy in the Stowell/Sendak version:  instead there was "grown-up" Clara, and Carrie Imler danced that role, at least under Russell and Stowell; I saw her in 2002, partnered by Batkhurel Bold, who is his wife's (Lesley Rausch's) partner in the Balanchine, like last season.   Imler danced Flora, the lead in Waltz of the Flowers, more often.  She and William Lin-Yee, her Balanchine Cavalier, looked fantastic together in Ratmansky's "Don Quixote" a couple of seasons ago.


In looking up old casts, I noticed that Lara Seefeldt, who went on to dance with Olivier Wevers' Whim W'him, danced Young Clara (tween) in 1995.

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Looking for a season schedule in calendar-page format, I've studied this page https://www.pnb.org/nutcracker/ and counted up 17 Nutcracker performances this season.  Am I missing anything?  There seem to be odd gaps in the run - better than running everybody ragged in a marathon of 40 performances, wall-to-wall, like NYCB used to do (and may still) - no wonder that their last performances included some gags.  Everybody was going nuts, although, as sandik reminds us, there are a lot of roles here, and devoted NYCB followers - the "every-nighters" - saw all or most most of the Nutcrackers, too, for the company debuts they included.   


I get that mid-week performances are less in demand and so, "value-priced".  (Not under-cast?)  But, wanting to see how PNB does my fave choreography of this music after a look at Wheeldon's new version for the Joffrey and Ballet Chicago's current top crop in theirs, I'm confused in the planning.   

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Midweek performances generally start the week before or the week of Christmas, depending on when the holiday falls during the week.


Seattle doesn't have the tourist traffic or the business traffic that NYC does, and the city can't support a schedule like NYCB's.

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I counted 38 performances, which is not insubstantial, with four performances each weekend, and two performances per day in the week leading up to Christmas Eve, and two performances per day for the final half week of the run. Not quite NYCB's 47 performances, but a heavy-duty schedule for a smaller troupe of dancers.

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When Boeing was the large employer in town, they shut down between Christmas and New Year (figuring that their productivity that week would be awful anyway) and almost every holiday thing happened then.  Since then, we've broadened out the calendar, and acquired many more events, but it can still seem like an odd schedule.  In the past, the company would alternate between starting later and running all the way to New Year's Eve, and starting earlier, but not covering the entire end of the month.  In the past several years, they seem to have settled on opening the Friday after Thanksgiving. 

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On November 23, 2016 at 8:17 PM, volcanohunter said:

I counted 38 performances, which is not insubstantial, with four performances each weekend, and two performances per day in the week leading up to Christmas Eve, and two performances per day for the final half week of the run. Not quite NYCB's 47 performances, but a heavy-duty schedule for a smaller troupe of dancers.


Agreed, that's "not insubstantial," to put it mildly.  Pretty impressive, actually, when you compare the populations of the two metropolitan areas (I'm not proportioning the sizes of the theaters).

Anyway, my error was thinking that those yellow "BUY TICKETS" buttons were only for the adjacent date and time.  No, clicking any of them takes me to the same series of seat-selection charts, as comprehensive and efficient as any I've used, for the whole run.  (My count is the same as volcanohunter's now.  Thanks for nudging me on.) 


Edited by Jack Reed
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PNB does 41 performances of the GB Nut this season, between November 25 and December 28. Three of these are student matinees (complete performances with orchestra). The student matinees are listed at https://www.pnb.org/community/programs/eyesondance/


Like most (likely all) large U.S. companies these days, PNB's marketing department analyzes sales from prior years for each show in order to determine its Nutcracker schedule and maximize accessibility and revenue. This year, midweek evening performances begin December 14 and midweek matinees begin December 20.

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Marina Harss wrote an article for "The New Yorker" about training for the Nutcracker Prince and how it fits into a student and, potentially, dancer's career.  There are interviews with SAB students and a NYCB dancer, but it is pertinent to PNB as well, since PNB now performs the Balanchine version:



Casting is up for December 14-18 performances; this week has the first Wednesday night performance:



I don't see any asterisks for Week 4 to designate role debuts.  As always, casting is subject to change.


Here's the link to the downloadable spreadsheet.  Past weekends have been moved under the next two weeks, and they haven't been checked for any updates:

Nutcracker Casting 2016 12-6.xlsx

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20 minutes ago, Helene said:


I don't see any asterisks for Week 4 to designate role debuts.  As always, casting is subject to change.


It seems to me Elle Macy should have an asterisk for a Sugar Plum Fairy debut.  In any case, I'm really looking forward to seeing her and Steven Loch as SPF and Cavalier.


I was looking forward to seeing Elle as Dewdrop this past Saturday evening but she had a substitute, as did Noelani and James as SPF and Cavalier.  Still a great show though!

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5 hours ago, Helene said:

There are student performances in which dancers have participated, which, I believe, count as debuts.


And I was just wondering what roles Biasucci, Pantastico, and Imler danced when they were at CPYB, since they do the Balanchine Nut.

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How about the rail lines, e.g. up from SeaTac and the monorail link up to the park with the space needle in it in Queen Anne?  (I believe this park is called Seattle Center, but Google Maps is being coy about it.)  Do those still work normally under those conditions?  And what about the buses going up and down the many hills, e.g. from Belltown (or is it "Denny Regrade"?) toward Queen Anne?  It doesn't sound like the right conditions to take a taxi in.


I'm planning to visit Christmas week, owing to last-minute airline-seat availabilities, to see the 22nd through the 24th.  (Hoping the PNB top ranks won't be wiped out by then.) 

Edited by Jack Reed
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The light rail (the train from the airport that runs through downtown and stops (for now) near the university hospital and stadium) seems to be pretty steady, even during difficult weather, but it does run at grade in the middle of a major street for a big chunk of its route into downtown, so it may be affected by nitwittery.  The Monorail (elevated train from downtown to Seattle Center campus, where the ballet performs) is sometimes shut down if we're having freezing weather, but we're usually more wet that icy.  The long range prediction has it around freezing before you're scheduled to come to town, but warming up a bit starting around the 22nd.  Alas, there is no long-range dancer health information!

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Some extra thoughts about the show this year:

The second year with this new production – I’m very curious to see what their attendance is like during a more “regular” year.  I heard from the office that they’re on track to meet budget so far, and that the latter part of the run sells better than the first couple weeks.


The film during the overture was re-made this year – one of the artists said that they were able to build on what they learned from doing the first version last year, and though I couldn’t really see any significant difference, I believe that the filmmakers can.  The ‘flying through a snowstorm’ effect works very well, along with all the rest of the images in the woods.  I have a few quibbles with the images in the town (the church seems very large for the size of the community, and I have questions about a paddlewheel steamer on a river than size), but it’s still a lovely introduction to the location and the time of year.  This year they added another short film – this one runs during the extended violin solo after the battle in the first act, and covers that transition.  This one was made using green screen technology, where human beings are filmed in an austere environment, that is fleshed out by the animators afterwards, so that the humans move naturally.  It doesn’t quite match the movement qualities of the first film, and its animated mice, but it is quite charming on its own.  I wonder, though, what the use of these films says about people’s inability to sit still and listen to an extended piece of music during a dance performance, but this is a show for children as well as adults.


One of the details in Falconer’s first act set is his use of patterns, both in the set decoration and the costumes.  Clara’s red and white striped dress matches the cushions of the chair she and her brother sit on at the beginning of the act and the lining of Drosselmeyer’s cloak.  (it also matches the stripes that Olivia the Pig wears in most of Falconer’s books – there are fake boxes painted on drops that hang outside the proscenium arch – Olivia sits house left, with a woman peering at her through her opera glasses).  The other patterns look like the come from period design books – one of the matrons who is a party guests wears a dress that match the wallpaper, while another mother and daughter pair match each other.  The set for the first act is much more realistic than the second, obviously, but it’s interesting that it’s got a couple of picture frames around it at the proscenium arch – it’s realistic, but it’s not real.


When the kids first see the tree, they jump up and down fairly randomly, like kids do, but later in the scene they all move in unison, walking towards the tree with their arms up, looking for all in the world like a bunch of sleepwalking zombies.


Opening night Ezra Thompson was super-crisp as the toy solider in the first act.  All the signature stuff (arms slice side to side, upbeat accents, 1 and ¼ air turns, so that he hits the four compass points) looked fantastic.  Somehow, when he speaks about his work, he seems to give the impression that he’s not really paying attention to technique, but he’s got the skills.


Opening night Clara had really good aim with shoe – she could have brained him. 


My family was with me on opening night, and had varied responses to the blown glass star that’s being lent by Dale Chihuly – one of them called it “the golden thistle” and the other called it “the Crystalline UFO of Holiday Merriment.”  Alas, I couldn’t work either one of those into my review.


Leta Biasucci was the SPF opening night, with Ben Griffiths.  She’s almost got the same precipite that Imler has, the sense that you arrive just before the downbeat – I wonder if it’s part of the training at CPYB.  He looked great as well – his variation was ever so clean.  Leslie Rausch was extra gracious the next week – the duet with Batkhurel Bold was spot on.  Noelani Pantastico looked extremely happy as Dewdrop on opening.  The next week, Imler really flew through the variation – she was in control of everything she did.


The designs for act two are almost an exact replica of the NYCB sets, with some differences in color scheme (pink and green striped candy cane pillars).  I really wish that Falconer had taken this opportunity to think a bit more creatively.  The only real distinction is the saturated color on the upstage scrim – brilliant blue for the Mother Ginger and the SPF, lime green for Marzipan, grassy green for the Flowers, and mauve (becoming purple) for the SPF.  It felt a bit like the old color wheels that people used with a flocked white Christmas tree. 

Going back later in the month to see Imler as SPF – will report.

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Sharp eyes, seattle_dancer:  Debut "*"'s have been added to Elle Macy's debut as Sugar Plum Fairy tonight and Price Suddarth's debut as Cavalier at the Saturday matinee:



Also some changes:  

  • Elizabeth Murphy is replaced by Emma Love Suddarth (Coffee, Sat mat) and Leah Merchant (SPF. Sun mat) this weekend, but is currently scheduled for next week (Week 5) as Coffee.
  • Joshua Grant replaces Jerome Tisserand as Cavalier, to partner Merchant (Sun mat)
  • Benjamin Griffiths  is replaced as Candy Cane by Kyle Davis (Sat mat) and Ryan Cardea (Sun eve), but is currently schedule for Candy Cane and Cavalier next week.

Week 5 casting is up at the link above, and here is the link to the downloadable casting worksheet (with prior weeks shaded in gray and not checked against the website for casting changes).


Nutcracker Casting 2016 12-13.xlsx

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