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Nutcracker performances to move from Fox Theatre to Cobb Energy Centre

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Atlanta Ballet moves its Nutcracker production to Cobb Energy Centre:


'Some of the technical aspects of the show will be easier to perform in Cobb, said Jacobus. The Cobb Center has a bigger loading dock and more storage capacity in the wings. “They have all the accoutrement of a high-tech theater.”
In addition, seats in the orchestra at the Cobb facility are raked and staggered, producing better sight lines, he said.'

Is this a good thing? Or bad?

Edited by pherank
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In a situation where Nutcracker ticket sales can be a significant part of an annual budget, this seems like a major driver in this decision.

"The Atlanta Ballet was given access to more performance dates by the Cobb center, making room for 30 possible performances as opposed to 19, said Jacobus. Significantly, more of those could be weekend performances, which sell more briskly than week-day shows."

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Attending the enchanting Fox is itself an event and the Cobb energy center is well outside the city center (insofar as Atlanta has a center) — though I guess it is central to its own section of the very spread out Atlanta. I always laugh (grimly) when Atlanta Ballet thanks Fulton County for its support right before its performances in....Cobb county. The latter is notably absent from the list of public and private supporters being announced. (The Fox is in Fulton County.)

That said, sightlines at the Fox are horrible, parking can be a little complicated and of course being able to offer a longer run of Nutcracker could be great for the company. Cobb energy center has excellent sight lines and is in other respects a very pleasant contemporary venue. You feel like you are in a classic Hollywood movie amidst the Egyptian decorative motifs of the Fox Theater ladies room — Gone with the Wind premiered at the Fox — but there are a lot more stalls at the Energy Center.

The old baseball venue—Turner Field—moved out to Cobb a few years back. It is actually the same exit off the highway as the Energy Center.  It sparked some debate, but Atlanta Ballet is unlikely to generate the same level of interest or concern as the Atlanta Braves.


Edited by Drew
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Venues are tricky things.  In Seattle, the ballet and the opera perform in a multiply remodeled theater -- it started in the 20s as the Civic Auditorium and had a concrete institutional feel to it.  It was renovated for the 1962 World's Fair, and though it was a serviceable space, it lacked the kind of social public spaces that we've come to expect in a performing arts facility.  It wasn't charmingly old or technically contemporary -- it felt rather industrial.  (not to mention the covered area with the box office kiosks that we used to call the carport).  So when they started raising money for another, more substantial remodel, there were only a few elements in the old building that folks were really going to miss.  I went to the press conference for the project, and every other slide in the PowerPoint presentation was "more women's bathrooms" -- it got applause every time.

While they were working on the project, the ballet and the opera performed in an adjacent arena space -- institutional, but serviceable.  Nutcracker, however, was performed at an old theater in town, built for the Fanchon-Marco vaudeville circuit, with beautiful plasterwork.  The sets (by Maurice Sendak) just shone there.  It wouldn't really be a great venue for the company on a regular basis -- transportation/parking is tricky, and it has the same bathroom problems as the old facility, but it was a treat to visit while they were working on the remodel.

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I certainly understand about the need to get more butts in seats, and offering more performances generally. Extending the Nutcracker season is the time-honored method to pay for everything else.

I love old theaters myself (for their architecture/interior design), but decent site-lines in the seating are so important for dance performances - that alone would make me switch venues.

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The Atlanta Ballet furthered their Nutcracker sales by traveling to the Kennedy Center for 7 performances. I wasted $49 and 2 hours on their forgettable program. Lackluster choreography and an abysmal failure to make a coherent telling of the story shown through despite the computer graphics and cute props. No Sugar Plum Fairy. No Cavalier. No Snow Queen. No Snow King. No dolls. Essentially no dancing for the first 60 percent of the first act. A nutcracker prince who cowardly runs away and leaves "Marie" at the mercy of the mice, saved only because Drosselmeier decides to cause the mice to leave. But she still falls in love with him because, well, because it is necessary for the second act (the nutcracker prince finally kills the mouse king in the second act - without any help from Marie). Marie, the NP, and Drosselmeier disappear for most of the second act, leaving no reason for the rest of the act to take place.

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