For those sticking around Denver for the long stretch of winter break, finding things to do can be a bit of a challenge. Almost everyone has headed home to spend time with family for the holidays and campus is all but empty, which makes it the perfect time to venture into the city and experience all Denver has to offer around this time of year. One can’t-miss event is the Colorado Ballet’s production of the holiday classic “The Nutcracker,” which is currently playing at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House downtown through Dec. 28.
This production of “The Nutcracker” is based on the original choreography by Martin Fredmann, with additional choreography by Sandra Brown. Scored by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and adapted from a story by E.T.A. Hoffman, the ballet tells the story of a young girl named Clara who receives a beautiful handmade nutcracker from her uncle for Christmas. The nutcracker is so beautiful that Clara’s brother, Fritz, becomes jealous and tries to take it but accidentally breaks it instead. To make her feel better, Clara’s uncle transforms the nutcracker into a magical, handsome prince who takes her on an enchanted adventure to the Kingdom of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
One of the most captivating aspects of this production is the set design and costuming. Audiences will be dazzled by the splendor of the intricate sets, which transport the viewer first to an extravagant 18th century Christmas party and then the mystical destinations to which Clara travels. At one point the stage is even blanketed with a flurry of artificial snow as Clara and her Nutcracker Prince are whisked away in a magical flying carriage. The costumes are just as elaborate, especially during the second act, in which Clara and the Nutcracker Prince observe performances from enchanted dolls that hail from countries across the world.
The two standout performers are the Sugarplum Fairy and Cavalier, played by Sharon Wehner and Viacheslav Buchkovskiy during this performance. Wehner and Buchkovskiy perform with incredible grace, and their talent is apparent even to those who are unfamiliar with the art of ballet. Audiences will be astounded as the two seem almost to float across the stage, leaping and pirouetting in a seemingly effortless fashion.
Though the story of “The Nutcracker” is whimsical by nature, this production also includes pointed moments of humor. For example, after the Nutcracker Prince and his toy soldiers battle an army of enchanted mice, the mice soldiers comically perform CPR on their commander with wild, exaggerated motions. Moments like these throughout the performance lighten the tone of the story and make it more enjoyable as a whole.
This is a performance that ballet aficionados and newcomers alike will be able to enjoy. With fantastical sets and costumes that transport the audience to a world of magic, attending “The Nutcracker” is a perfect activity to spark some holiday spirit. Plus, with world-class performances and even a touch of humor to keep audience members laughing, spectators will leave the theater smiling.
Ticket prices range from $25 to $155 are available online at www.ColoradoBallet.org. Students are eligible for a twenty percent discount when using the promotion code STUDENT in online purchases.