The essential holiday tradition of “The Nutcracker” ballet continues for one more weekend, presented by the Los Angeles Ballet at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center on Saturday, Dec. 27 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. and on Sunday, Dec. 28 at 2 p.m. This production is the perfect introduction to classic ballet for the whole family as there are many children of all ages in the cast. And given the number of touring companies bringing productions to Los Angeles, it’s nice to be able to support a hometown ballet company where many of the featured dancers were born and/or live in our area.
For those unfamiliar with the story, it’s Christmas Eve 1912 and the Staulbaum Family is preparing for their annual celebration. Their two children, Clara and Fritz, are especially excited to see their Uncle Drosselmeyer since he makes wonderfully magical clocks and dolls. Clara dreams of being a prima ballerina and loves playing with her favorite dolls including Marie the Ballerina, Marie’s Prince, and many other dolls from around the world. But this year is even more special when her uncle brings a life-size Nutcracker.
After the party, Clara climbs into bed and quickly falls asleep with the Nutcracker next to her bed. She awakens to witness a battle between several toy soldiers, The Mouse King and his entourage. This scene delighted many children in the audience as the mice were joyously silly with the soldiers played by young children.
The rest of the ballet shares Clara’s Dream as she and her beloved Nutcracker travel to the Land of Snow and onto the magical seaside Palace of the Dolls where all of her favorite doll companions come to life including Marie, Marie’s Prince, The Spanish, Arabian, and Russian Dolls, Clara’s Harlequin and Columbine, many beautiful Sunflowers as well as a perfect rose, and Mother Ginger who arrives with several Hansels and Gretels in a perfectly delicious ginger-bread house. With so many wonderful characters and such glorious Tchaikovsky music, each dance number is more spectacular than the last with ballet members celebrating the joy of childhood dreams with the audience.
Clara is played by 14-year old Dylan Burford, born in Newport Beach who has studied with the Los Angeles Ballet for six years. She has been performing in The Nutcracker for five seasons with this being her first time playing Clara. She brings pure childhood joy and wonder to the role and is quite an accomplished dancer. David Block, currently in his second season, portrays The Nutcracker beautifully, adding in the many stylized movements to bring the doll to life.
At the performance I attended, Marie and her Prince were danced by Allynne Noelle and Alexander Castillo who captivated the audience with their skill and overwhelming charm. Standout doll dancers were The Arabians (Britta Lazenga and Mayim Stiller), Har-lequin and Columbine (Robert Mulvey and Chloé Sherman), the leaping Russians (Samuel Akins, Javier Moya Romero and Dustin True), and the exquisite Rose (Kate Highstrete). The ultra feminine Snowflakes were magical at the end of Act 1, seemingly floating on air as snow fell on the stage. What a fabulous assortment of dancers and dances, each cho-reographed perfectly with the music and supporting players.
I encourage you to take your children and open their eyes to the wonder and beauty of ballet thanks to this marvelous production of “The Nutcracker” by the Los Angeles Ballet.
Adult tickets range from $31 to $99 with children, students and seniors from $24.50 to $79. Los Angeles Ballet offers a 30 percent discount off Standard Adult ticket prices for Children with the purchase of at least one Standard Adult ticket. Max of four Children’s tickets at 30 percent off per one standard ticket. Tickets are available by calling (310) 998-7782 or at www.losangelesballet.org.