BWW Review: THE YORKVILLE NUTCRACKER is Delightful
Dances Patrelle, the official ballet company of Ballet Academy East, with its well-trained students and company members ranging in ages 5 to 65, guests stars Jenifer Ringer and Jared Angle (New York City Ballet) and Matthew Dribble (The Royal Ballet) and children from various New York City dance schools presented their 18th annual production of The Yorkville Nutcracker at the Kaye Playhouse, December 5-8. This enchanting holiday treat takes place in New York City locales such as the Crystal Palace at the New York Botanical Gardens, the Central Park skating pond and Gracie Mansion. The December 8th final performance was both a triumphant and sad one, as Ms. Ringer, the glorious Sugar Plum Fairy of this production for 17 years, danced her final performance. Ms. Ringer is also retiring from New York City Ballet this spring.
In Nutcracker Nation: How an Old World Ballet Became a Christmas Tradition in the New World, Jennifer Fisher compares The Nutcracker to a Russian immigrant who takes on new world customs while still retaining his heritage. For over 70 years, this very Russian ballet conceived in the old world has become an American institution. Nowhere else in the world is The Nutcracker as beloved as in the United States. The number of American productions is now in the thousands, and while American Nutcrackers have many things in common, some of them have their own unique regionalized settings. One of the oldest and most endearing of these regionalized productions is Frances Patrelle's The Yorkville Nutcracker.
The ballet follows the traditional score by Peter I. Tchaikovsky, and in many ways the E.T.A. Hoffman story from which the ballet takes its name. However, The Yorkville Nutcracker has a decidedly New York flair, evoking not only New York settings, but actual historical figures. Act One begins on Christmas Eve in 1895 at a party at the Gracie Mansion home of the Mayor of old New York, The Honorable William L. Strong. The guests are international consul generals and their families. Even Theodore Roosevelt makes a surprise appearance. The traditionAl Hoffman characters of Drosselmeyer, Marie and Fritz are portrayed as Uncle Noah Wheaton and Mary and Putnam Bradlee Strong. The party scene includes many traditional Nutcracker elements, as does the battle scene of the mice and toys soldiers with its growing Christmas tree. Delightful and unique touches here include the mice kick line to the chiming clock and the darling female reindeer that pull the sleigh that carries Mary and the Yellowstone Kelly Nutcracker (aka Mary's brother Putnam Bradlee) from the Land of Snow. This Snow scene takes place in the Central Park skating pond with skaters instead of more traditional productions' dancing snowflakes. Mr. Dribble, as the Snow Boy, was admirable in this scene.