The ‘Nut’ House

That’s just … how to put this? … nuts.

"I’m astounded when I hear people say they’ve never seen ‘The Nutcracker.’ I cannot believe that is possible," says James Canfield, artistic director of Nevada Ballet Theatre, which stages the annual yuletide gift for a half-dozen holiday performances this week at Paris Las Vegas.

"I’ve met people in their 30s and 40s who have never seen it, and I’m like, ‘You’re kidding.’ "

"Nut" novice? In a "Nut"-shell:

Arguably the world’s most recognizable ballet, even to those who can’t tell a plie from a pair of pliers. Set to cherished music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. (Just call him Tchaikovsky for short.)

Based on the story, "The Nutcracker and the King of Mice" by E.T.A. Hoffmann.

Tells the tale of Clara, a young German lass who dreams of a Nutcracker prince taking on a seven-headed Mouse King and a battle royale between dolls and mice. (Realism isn’t its strong point.)

"It’s easier when you have a story ballet for brand new people when they come," says Rebecca Brimhall, who dances the role of the snow queen.

"They understand it and follow it better, compared to more contemporary pieces we’ve done where people might sit there and go, ‘OK, what’s that all about?’ "

Shopping for fairies, either of the sugar plum or dewdrop variety? Want to revel in elaborate sets, ornate costumes and waves and waves of dancers? Care to prance about the Kingdom of Sweets? Party-down in a holiday hoedown? This is your one-stop ballet.

"This will date me, but I’ve been doing ‘The Nutcracker’ since 1970 in one capacity or another," Canfield says. "For the kids, it’s like, these are the roles that are yours when you’re in eighth grade, then that’s what you do in ninth grade. You look forward to it and start taking ownership of it. It’s that time when they get to participate with the professional company and be around that energy, their entrance into the mainstage, aside from the school concerts they do."

Admiring the grown-ups, aspiring to their abilities? Grigori Arakelyan, who dances the role of cavalier, has experienced "The Nutcracker" from both perspectives. "I was still back in Armenia, in the academy there, fifth or sixth grade, and I was chosen to play one of the flower boys," Arakelyan recalls. "I looked up to the principal dancers and thought, ‘I hope I grow up and be like them.’ "

Glancing at this year’s "Nutcracker" tote board: Pro dancers? Twenty-nine. Kids? Whoa — 103.

"This year we have a lot of boys, which is great because you don’t see a lot of that in (ballet academies), which is a shame," Arakelyan says. "I can see now when we dance, the little kids look at us like, ‘Oh my God, they look so great, I hope I can do this.’ "

Though some productions of "The Nutcracker" feature a few dark elements not necessarily child-friendly — specifically, the face-off between the mice and the toy soldiers and Clara’s courageous slaying of the Mouse King — this interpretation by renowned choreographer Peter Anastos keeps faith with the classic’s festive elements. "When people have come from Christmas shopping and they’re under all that stress, that’s not what they’re looking for," Anastos says about more ominous depictions of the fight scene.

This season, "Nutcracker" assumes a Parisian flair as the production hits the Strip, shifting from the Judy Bayley Theatre at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to the Paris Theatre at Paris Las Vegas.

"The Nutcracker," if you’ll excuse the expression, plays Vegas.

"It’s a beautiful, vast theater, a bigger stage, a bigger house," Canfield says. "Judy Bayley is a small theater, and we weren’t able to play the full sets there. This opens up new ideas and possibilities for us, and it’s also one step toward being at the Smith Center."

The company is set as an anchor tenant, paired with the Las Vegas Philharmonic, at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, now in construction and set for a late-2011 opening. For now, the venue change trades up the audience capacity from the Bayley’s 550 to the Paris’ 1,500-plus, offsetting the reduction of performances from 17 in past years to only six this season, climaxing Christmas Eve.

"It’s the same number of seats in a shorter period of time," Canfield says. "When we do our market research, we see it’s the performances prior to Christmas that sell best and it’s the ones after it that are hard to sell. The mentality was, the holidays are over and we’re still doing ‘The Nutcracker.’ We wanted to concentrate on getting our shows on before the holiday."

Whaddaya say, "Nutcracker" novice? Still unsure whether you want to experience a tradition so Christmas-y that Santa and the missus are spotted in the house every year?

That’s just … nuts.

Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at sbornfeld@ or 702-383-0256.

Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden
The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas
The Pinball Hall of Fame was created by Tim Arnold and opened in 2006. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas
Trainer Lou “Mack” McCammon guides several rescue dogs through a series of tricks and jumps two shows a day weekends through December at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Buddy V - Sep 21 Confidante
Famous Infinity Mirror Room is open in Las Vegas
Yayoi Kusama's "Aftermath of Obliteration of Infinity" mirror room is open at the Bellagio in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Glittering Lights dazzles Las Vegas
The Glittering Lights holiday display is shining at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Mat Luschek/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Skybar at Waldorf Astoria lets you sip your way through Las Vegas history
Skybar At Waldorf Astoria Lets You Sip Your Way Through Las Vegas History (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stan Lee in Las Vegas for Madame Tussauds unveiling
Stan Lee Las Vegas speaks with the Review-Journal's Chris Lawrence about his love for his fans and shared universes. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ultimate Belgium Waffle Sundae at Lavo
Lavo at the Palazzo serves a 16-scoop ice cream sundae that costs $800. (Rochelle Ricahrds, Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A New Zip Line Is Opening On The Las Vegas Strip
A New Zip Line Is Opening On The Las Vegas Strip (Janna Karel lLas Vegas Review-Journal)
You'll need a keen eye to find this secret bar on the Las Vegas Strip
You'll need a keen eye to find this secret bar on the Las Vegas Strip (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"The Lion King" roars into Las Vegas
New music club 172 brings loud luxury to Las Vegas
New music venue at the Rio brings rock ’n’ roll and food together at intimate club. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Fans fear for Zak Bagans’ safety in Las Vegas Halloween TV special
Fly Linq zip line time lapse
Fly Linq zip line timelapse
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like