‘Nutcracker’ sizzles with special effects

It’s a gift, to be sure – but one so resplendently wrapped that the contents can’t possibly compete with the elaborate exterior packaging.

That’s Nevada Ballet Theatre’s new edition of "The Nutcracker," which opened Saturday at The Smith Center and continues next weekend.

The company’s latest version of the holiday perennial arrives on the Reynolds Hall stage with every bit of its $2 million budget on display – in the form of elaborate sets, fanciful costumes and knock-your-Christmas-socks-off special effects, from a Victorian doll house that opens before your eyes to a giant rocking horse that floats across a snow-dappled sky with the greatest of ease.

And before each act, there’s a written synopsis, projected ("Star Wars"-style) onto the Reynolds Hall curtain, so you’ll be certain to follow all the action.

At least that seems to be the idea. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

But this "Nutcracker" – choreographed by NBT artistic director James Canfield to Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky’s imperishable score – presumes you’ll be so bedazzled by the pretty pictures on stage you won’t care.

Set "once upon a time, at the beginning of the modern age," this "Nutcracker" begins at a glittering Victorian Christmas party.

There, Clara (a sprightly Sarah Fuhrman ) – still a girl, but not for much longer – receives a special gift from her mysterious, man-of-the-world godfather Drosselmeyer (an elegant Kirk Ryder). It’s a nutcracker, decked out in a scarlet soldier’s uniform very much like the one worn by Drosselmeyer’s nephrew (dashing Grigori Arakeylan ), who seems to be paying much more attention to Clara’s older sister Louise (Briley Jozwiak ).

That is, until the party ends – and Clara’s dreams begin, as the clock chimes midnight and the valiant Nutcracker comes to life, leading his wooden-soldier comrades in battle against the evil Rat King (a suitably stealthy Walter Gutierrez ) and his rodent regiment.

Clara’s intervention ensures the Nutcracker’s victory – and transforms him into a charming human prince who accompanies our heroine through multiple wonderlands, winter and otherwise.

Along the way, they encounter (among others), a Winter Fairy (Alissa Dale) and her Snow Prince (Steven Goforth ), the ethereal Sugar Plum Fairy (Amy Von Handorf ) and an it’s-a-small-world lineup of Spanish, Arabian, Chinese and Russian dancers. To say nothing of Mother Ginger and her little Gingersnaps, played by a host of adorable NBT dance students whose eager capering brings endearing – and most welcome – charm to the proceedings.

Enjoy such simple pleasures while you can, because for much of this "Nutcracker," it’s often tough to see the dancers for the trees. And snowflakes. And giant clocks, which turn into giant doors. And trees with trunks that look like a little girl’s intertwined braids. And … well, you get the idea.

The ballet’s extravagant scenic designs – by Cirque du Soleil veteran Patricia Ruel – and Sandra Woodall’s glittering costumes are consistently ingenious and frequently breathtaking. So much so that, on opening night, they earned at least as much applause as the dancers themselves.

And that, in a nutshell, is what keeps this "Nutcracker" – to my mind, anyway – from delivering all the magic it’s trying so mightily to conjure. (But if, like Mae West, you believe that too much of a good thing can be wonderful, then this "Nutcracker’s" for you.)

There’s so much going on all over the place all the time that the dancers sometimes seem lost amid the pageantry and eye-popping effects.

A case in point: Act I’s Snow Scene pas de deux, in which dancers Dale and Goforth look as though they’re twirling inside an all-shook-up snow globe, having to compete with whirling make-believe snowflakes falling in front of a backdrop boasting its own giant snowflakes – and an even more massive full moon.

Another, even more telling example, emerges in Act II’s "Arabian Dance," in which Mary LaCroix and Nicholas Card cut through the clutter of the dance’s peacock theme with a sleek, sinuous pas de deux. That is, until the moment Card unfurls his dazzling peacock plumage, shifting the focus away from the dance itself and back to the ballet’s undeniably spectacular trappings.

Throughout, the orchestra (under the direction of Jack Gaughan , recently of "Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular") brings Tchaikovsky’s entrancing score to life, capturing everything from the rousing "Russian Dance" to the lilting "Waltz of the Flowers" with energy and elegance.

It’s the one element of NBT’s new "Nutcracker" that seems refreshingly content to let the magic happen -and confident that magic will happen – without any over-the-top embellishments.

At least this "Nutcracker" delivers its numerous embellishments with determined, can-you-top-this flair. And that, come to think of it, makes it a very Vegas "Nutcracker" indeed.

Contact reporter Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Artist Joshua Vides created a "White Wedding" chapel for Billy Idol's Las Vegas residency
Artist Joshua Vides created a "White Wedding" chapel for Billy Idol's Vegas residency (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Try the Burning History cocktail at Zuma In Las Vegas
Try the Burning History cocktail at Zuma In Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES final night showcases Drake at XS Nightclub
Drake performed for CES attendees and club-goers at XS Nightclub in Encore at Wynn Las Vegas in the early morning hours of Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (John Katsilometes Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Happy Hour party at Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace
Conventioneers mingled during the Hardware Massive CES 2019 Happy Hour Bash at The Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
CES 2019 Has A Cordless Hair Dryer
CES Has A Cordless Hair Dryer (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Panel talks Impossible Burger 2.0
Panel talks Impossible Burger at CES during launch at Border Grill on Monday, Jan. 7. (Ben Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Momofuku Makes A Cocktail With Bok Choy And Beets
Momofuku Makes A Cocktail With Bok Choy And Beets (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Dream of AJ Montgomery
AJ Montgomery lost part of his leg in a vehicle accident but found his dream as a performer in “Le Reve.” (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kelly Clinton-Holmes of the Stirling Club
John Katsilometes chats with Kelly Clinton-Holmes, director of the Stirling Club's New Year's Eve entertainment.
Month-by-month entertainment coming in 2019
“True Detective” Season 3, HBO (Jan. 13) Travis Scott, T-Mobile Arena (Feb. 6) Robbie Williams, Encore Theatre at Wynn Las Vegas (March 6, 8, 9, 13, 15 and 16) “Game of Thrones” Season 8, HBO (April) Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas Motor Speedway (May 17-19) “Fiddler on the Roof,” The Smith Center (June 4-9) “The Lion King” (July 19) Psycho Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay (Aug. 16-18) Life is Beautiful, downtown Las Vegas (Sept. 20-22) “Tim Burton @ the Neon Museum” (Oct. 15) “Frozen 2” (Nov. 22) “Star Wars: Episode IX” (Dec. 20)
Lacey Huszcza invites you to find something to love at the Las Vegas Philharmonic
Lacey Huszcza, executive director of the Las Vegas Philharmonic talks about the orchestra's wealth of programming. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gina Marinelli offers La Strega preview
Gina Marinelli used a pop-up New Year’s Eve dinner at Starboard Tack to preview items she’ll feature at her new Summerlin restaurant, La Strega. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Year’s Eve at Sparrow + Wolf
Sparrow + Wolf’s New Year’s Eve party was a sort of official unveiling of its newly renovated space. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas NYE Fireworks - VIDEO
The full show: A spectacular view from the rooftop of the Trump International Hotel as 80,000 pyrotechnics illuminated the Las Vegas Strip at the stroke of midnight. Fireworks by Grucci choreographed launches from the Stratosphere, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
Debra Kelleher Of The Stirling Club
Debra Kelleher, DK Hospitality President talks with Johnny Kats about the reopening of the Stirling Club.
Richard Ditton Of The Stirling Club
Richard Ditton, an investment partner of the Stirling Club talks with Johnny Kats about the reopening of the club.
NYE at the Stirling Club
John Katsilometes reports from the reopening of the Stirling Club on New Year's Eve 2018.
Michael Stapleton of the Stirling Club
Michael Stapleton, COO of the Stirling Club talks with Johnny Kats about the reopening of the club.
Recap the Countdown on Fremont Street — VIDEO
Nearly 40,000 people packed Fremont Street to enjoy America's Party Downtown. As the tradition stands, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman counted down the clock on the 3rd Street Stage, alongside her husband and former mayor, Oscar Goodman.
New Year's Eve live from the Las Vegas Strip Bellagio Fountains - Video
Reporter Aaron Drawhorn near the Bellagio Fountains as hundreds of thousands gather to celebrate New Year's Eve in Las Vegas
Ryan Reaves describes the flavors in Training Day beer
Ryan Reaves talks about the flavor of Training Day, the new beer from 7Five Brewing that was launched at the PKWY Tavern on West Flamingo Road. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ryan Reaves describes his new beer
Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves talks about his new beer from 7Five Brewing at a launch party at PKWY Tavern on West Flamingo Road. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas' five biggest NYE concerts
Imagine Dragons at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Lady Gaga at The Park Theater at Park MGM, Maroon 5 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Bruno Mars at T-Mobile Arena, and Tenacious D at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Celebrate New Years Day, Hangover Day and Bloody Mary Day at Cabo Wabo
Celebrate New Years Day, Hangover Day and Bloody Mary Day at Cabo Wabo (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Michael Symon, chef and owner of Mabel's BBQ, talks about his first Las Vegas restaurant
Michael Symon, chef and owner of Mabel's BBQ, talks about his first Las Vegas restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye @bizutesfaye
New American Eagle flagship on the Las Vegas Strip lets you customize your clothing
American Eagle flagship on the Las Vegas Strip lets you customize your clothing
Bellagio Conservatory display is Majestic Holiday Magic
Majestic Holiday Magic at the Bellagio Conservatory
Las Vegas Ready for 2019 NYE Fireworks Show
The city of Las Vegas is ready to celebrate "America's Party" with a new and improved fireworks show that will pay tribute to the Golden Knights.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like