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Review: A DAZZLING PRODUCTION OF “THE NUTCRACKER” TAKES CENTER STAGE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON at Straz Center For The Performing Arts

Review: A DAZZLING PRODUCTION OF “THE NUTCRACKER” TAKES CENTER STAGE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON at Straz Center For The Performing Arts

This extremely talented Company filled with the brightest young stars, proves to be an outstanding holiday tradition for all ages.

Anyone who has ever taken the time to listen to Christmas Music, or thrust themselves into the droves of retail holiday shopping, has probably heard a familiar tune grace the airways. Throughout popular culture and even the likes of an M&M Candies commercial, cadences from The Nutcracker can be heard.

So whether you grew up listening to classic Christmas tunes, or grew up near a big city, in some way shape or form you have heard of The Nutcracker. Always a go-to holiday event for families of all ages and generations, this classic story is brilliantly told through the art of dance, specifically in the form of Ballet.

For the folks in Next Generation Ballet, we see a classic tale told in a beautiful manner, and brilliantly executed both in design and choreography to bring Holiday cheer to its attending patrons.

The plot here is as classic and simple as they come, yet so endearing. The story takes place on Christmas Eve in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1893. The Silberhaus family is hosting a grand party, and everyone is invited. The festivities, however, are interrupted by the arrival of Clara's godfather Uncle Drosselmeyer, a magician who gives Clara a nutcracker doll. Late at night, Uncle Drosselmeyer returns and calls forth gigantic mice. Before Clara's eyes, the nutcracker grows to life-size and successfully battles the mice. The Snow King and Queen arrive to bring a cleansing snowstorm. The nutcracker transforms into a charming prince who takes Clara away in a magic sleigh to St. Petersburg Square where they are greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy and court of dancers. Slowly, everyone begins to fade away. Clara awakes back in her home to realize it was just a dream-- or was it?

The Nutcracker is presented by the Patel Conservatory and Next Generation Ballet, and features a company of young artists, as well as Seasoned Ballet Performers direct from New York City Ballet.

Only four shows December 16 at 7:00pm, December 17 at 2:00pm and 7:00pm, and finally December 18 at 2pm. Each performance features a different cast of dancers, some of which are featured in multiple performances. The casts are Imperial, Czarist, Faberge, and Marlinsky, and are each designated with a corresponding letter in the program next to the dancer's name.

Just looking at the program prior to the show, gives the audience an idea of how many people it takes to put a production of this magnitude on. They always say it takes a village, and this company is top-notch from start to finish.

468 people some even doubling on certain roles. A massive amount of talent that explodes from the stage the moment the tale begins.

The eye-catching costumes, and beautiful scenic design mold the story together seamlessly to tell the story of the tale.

As Choreography goes, the exquisite precision in each performer helped to tell the story beautifully. The strength in their movements, and the follow-through created a fluid story line for the audience to follow.

As Clara, the night I attended was the Imperial Cast, Sadie Barrett is exceptional. She is poised and precise in every moment-to-moment.

As the Nutcracker Prince, Simeon Neeld is strong, both in partnering moments and solo work.

As Uncle Drosselmeyer, Matthew Belopavlovich is an outstanding illusionist. Having witnessed his work last season with Tampa Rep, for Open, I knew he'd be in his element here.

As Cavalier, Jovani Furlan was incredibly strong and stoic. His solo moments were exceptional, and every time he graced the stage, thunderous applause would erupt.

As our Sugar Plum, Unity Phelan is a marvel. Poised and beautiful from the moment she stepped on-stage, watching her perform was breathtaking.

The Company of The Nutcracker as a whole, deserve every accolade given for their truly beautiful performance. The perfect way to usher in the Holiday Season with family and friends alike.

As we all know, the Holiday Season is a busy time for all involved and unfortunately at the time of this writing, The Nutcracker has closed for the season. If you are ever interested in checking out all that Next Generation Ballet, and the Patel Conservatory has to offer, please do yourself an immense favor and head over to www.strazcenter.org to find out more information about tickets, their production offerings, and ways in which you too can get involved, not only in the holiday season but all year long.

I applaud the fine folks of Next Generation Ballet, the Patel Conservatory, and the Straz Center for bringing such an honored tradition to its audiences every holiday season. Next up for Next Generation Ballet is a the powerful staging of Don Quixote, and I for one cannot wait to see what they do with it.

PHOTO CREDIT: THE STRAZ CENTER



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