Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011 | 4:24 p.m.
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It’s almost sacrilegious that I have never seen “The Nutcracker” in that 1) I’m an arts and entertainment journalist and 2) I love the holidays -- and I mean I love the holidays. The deprivation ended at Nevada Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker” at its opening matinee performance at the Paris on Saturday, and a new annual holiday tradition was born.
The production, about young Clara and her holiday adventures and joy with her Nutcracker Doll, is a holiday treat from start to finish. Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky’s music is festive and familiar even to “Nutcracker” newcomers, and Peter Anastos’ choreographer provides the dancers and ballerinas ample opportunity to show off their jaw-dropping skills.
Children will enjoy the beautiful costumes, sets and characters, and adults will be in awe at the company’s flights of athleticism and fancy -- the women are elegant, graceful and captivating, and the men are masculine, muscular and thoroughly engaging. You’d have to be the Grinch or Ebenezer Scrooge not to be warmed by the children who take to the stage as mice, toy soldiers, bakers and other characters.
NBT’s “The Nutcracker” really pops to life in “Act II: Land of the Sweets,” when the company is spotlighted in various dance styles and techniques, from Spanish, Chinese and Arabian to French and Russian. Alissa Dale (Frau Stahlbaum, Sugarplum Fairy), Grigori Arakelyan (Herr Stahlbaum, Cavalier) and Jeremy Bannon-Neches (Snow King, Russian Nougat) are standouts in their multiple roles.
NBT Artistic Director James Canfield thanked the audience before the start of the matinee for supporting the arts in Las Vegas and said that this is Nevada Ballet’s 40th anniversary season, which will be feted at a gala May 5. He also noted proudly NBT’s strong affiliation with the Smith Center for the Performing Arts opening in 2012.
Saturday’s opening performance at 2 p.m. included a brief cameo by Las Vegas’ Sweetheart Holly Madison, star of “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood and “Holly’s World” on E! Entertainment. Madison looked like a gorgeous snow angel in her role as a party guest in a light green gown, and she received applause from the audience of mostly moms and young children when she appeared onstage.
Thanks to Las Vegas Sun photographer Leila Navidi and Denise Truscello for their Madison photo galleries and to Navidi again for her intimate backstage look at the classic holiday production. “The Nutcracker’s” remaining five performances are at 7 p.m. today through Friday and 1 and 5 p.m. Christmas Eve Saturday. Please note that children younger that 3 are not permitted at the performance.
Don Chareunsy is editor of VegasDeLuxe.com and arts and entertainment editor of LasVegasSun.com.
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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