Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Nevada Ballet Theater’s 2013 reimagination of “The Nutcracker” is the most visually beautiful production ever staged in Reynolds Hall at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in its nearly two years of existence.
The high praise is not bestowed lightly, as Reynolds Hall, since officially opening in March 2012, has been home to some stellar productions, among them Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Wizard of Oz,” “Les Miserables,” “Wicked,” “Anything Goes,” “La Cage Aux Folles” and “West Side Story.”
But under the sturdy direction of Artistic Director James Canfield, who discussed his reimagined “Nutcracker” last week before Saturday night’s grand opening, this holiday gem absolutely soars. E.T.A. Hoffman’s beloved “The Nutcracker” is the story of Clara and her new gift, a nutcracker who propels the young girl into a magical dream world of adventure, invention and imagination.
Music Director and Conductor Jack Gaughan and his orchestra do justice to Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s immediately recognizable music — even turning up the volume would be fine, as the music is wonderful — and the costume design by Sandra Woodall is absolutely beautiful — the colors are rich and vibrant and mesmerize but don’t overpower — onstage.
But the absolute standouts are Patricia Ruel’s scenic and property designs and Canfield’s choreography. As the curtain is drawn, the life-sized, four-level Victorian dollhouse is an astounding site to behold, and the large set piece is even multi-use. The classic winter scene (with an abundance of snow — how none of the dancers slipped is a small miracle) and colorful spring (with umbrella-like flowers) are gorgeous, and the flying rocking horse is whimsical.
The choreography is exquisite. Betsy Lucas is perfect in capturing young Clara’s innocence. Alissa Dale (the Winter Fairy) and Steven Goforth (the Snow Prince) rule their snow scene; Goforth received rousing applause for his all-too-short solo spotlight moments (but would later return as a bull in Act II’s the Divertissement, the most energetic and audience favorite of “The Nutcracker”). And, of course, the many children performers are delightful and charming.
NBT’s $2 million “The Nutcracker” is a splendid holiday treat for the family and people in search of the holiday spirit. Thanks to Denise Truscello of WireImage for her photo gallery with an artistic touch and Steve Marcus of the Las Vegas Sun for his rehearsal photo gallery.
Nevada Ballet Theater’s “The Nutcracker,” in Reynolds Hall at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, continues through Sunday; go to the Smith Center’s website for show times and ticket information.
Don Chareunsy is senior editor for arts and entertainment of the Las Vegas Sun.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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