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Review: The Nutcracker

Author: Hannah Gordon

There’s a certain childlike wonder that comes with every performance of The Nutcracker. The Neglia Ballet Artists did not disappoint.

Neglia Ballet’s The Nutcracker opened at Shea’s Performing Arts Center last night, bringing Christmas joy to the audience, young and old.

The entire performance was stunning. Vibrant costumes danced across the stage, and fake snow sparkled to the ground. As with any performance, there were particular highlights.

Herr Drosselmeyer, portrayed by Vincent O’Neill, brings the magic touch to the performance. The character gave young Marie her nutcracker and mysteriously whisked around his black cape.

Maid ballerinas wheeled out the large puppeteer trunk that housed harlequin dancers and the Nutcracker. Herr Drosselmeyer’s fingers commanded the doors open, and, of course, they did. A little voice of about 6 years old behind me said in amazement, “How did he make that do that?” Her father answered, “Magic.” She gasped, “Awesome.”

Herr Drosselmeyer casts a spell on Marie, portrayed by Yuha Tomita, sending her into a world of giant rats, toy soldiers and dancing cupcakes.

The iconic Rat King and Nutcracker battle was exactly what you’d expect—tiny toy soldiers in bright blue uniforms marching around frighteningly large, buck-teethed rodents. The plot is a bit disturbing if you really think about it.

The pace of the performance picked up towards the end of the first act and into the second. Herr Drosselmeyer transformed Marie from a young girl into an adult to match her nutcracker’s transformation into a prince clad in white outfit fit for royalty.

Ballerina snowflakes took to the stage in bluish sparkling dresses. Soon after, duos took over with Spanish, Arabian and Chinese inspired ballet. The Arabian ballet with dancers Mary Beth Hansohn and Shane Ohmer was an impressive display. Ohmer lifted Hanson above his head on more than one occasion. Hansohn’s attire, reminiscent of Princess Jasmine from Disney’s Aladdin, sparked an “oo, la, la” from the same tiny voice behind me.

A trio portrayed the dance of the Mirlitons. The solo Trepak dancer, Ilya Burov, was the audience favorite from the ethnic-specific ballets. Burov’s spins and leaps had the audience clapping every time.

Small twirling cupcakes and tiny bakers sporting fake mustaches brought a cheery number to break up the elegance a bit. The bakers clanged wooden spooned and popped between the girls in frosted cupcake costumes.

The flowers definitely had the best attire from the night. Earthy green corset tops with pink, green, blue and purple tulle skirts whirled and jumped across the stage.

Overall, the performance is sure to please anyone. The tiny voice that came from behind me belonged to Remi Fleischmann. She sat with her father Simon Fleischmann, a Buffalo native who now lives in Chicago, Illinois. She was in awe.

“I liked when the magic man casted the spell,” Remi said.

That happened to be my favorite part too. It begins the magic. None of the swirls and twirls and vibrance that sets the imagination free could happen without Herr Drosselmeyer.

The final performance of Neglia Ballet’s The Nutcracker is today at 2 p.m. at Shea’s Performing Arts center.

For tickets, call 1-800-745-3000 or go to www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets are $29; $40, $55. Premium seating is also available for $75. For groups (10+), please call (716) 829-1154. For more information, visit www.sheas.org.

 

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