08 Dec, 2009
25 days of Christmas: our day six
Although the Santa Claus parade is a hard act to follow I wasn’t too worried. I had something awesome up my sleeve for day six.
The NAC (they are a Fishbowl sponsor!) gave us tickets to see the Nutcracker. We went on Sunday for the evening performance … and somehow I managed to keep it a secret until Sunday morning.
Mark asked me when I last saw the Nutcracker and I couldn’t quite remember. Maybe it was when I was 16 on that date which shall live in my memory forever. Anyway, it didn’t matter when I’d seen it. The Nutcracker is not like watching repeats of The National. There are new things to see! Besides the girls were keen. And so was I!
We arrived early. The NAC is always a good place to people watch, especially if it’s an evening performance. For awhile we had a good view of the foyer from upstairs and the tiny people below.
(Not to be judgy but who wears yoga pants to the NAC??)
If you were there, did you happen to see two girls wearing Santa hats? The only two bright red velvet caps with furry white pompoms in the entire room? Ha. That was us. So I guess I can’t really comment about appropriate clothing choices, can I? ;)
Anyway, there were also some pre-show activities we wanted to check out before the show as well.
The activities were skewed to younger children (which I wondered about, seeing as though this was an evening showing) and included a couple of stamping/colouring tables. Personally I was hoping to see some kind of large visual interpretation of the show we were about to see (a giant kid-friendly cheat sheet?) … maybe with photographs of the different characters and/or the children who got the coveted roles. (Unless it was there and we missed it?)
The show itself was lovely. Watching it at the NAC was truly like watching a dream. The interpretation of this particular production was new to me. I thought it was was really creative. Perhaps it even made the Nutcracker more relevant and dare I say, interesting to a contemporary audience.
This, from the NAC website:
This gorgeous version of the classic tale is a child’s Christmas fantasy. Nutcracker features Filbert the dancing bear, cavorting mice, a sugar-plum fairy, and a magically growing Christmas tree — all wrapped in a turn-of-the-century Canadian setting. Featuring choreography by Nina Menon and Galina Yordanova, scenery by Brian Perchaluk, 175 original costumes by Paul Daigle, Tchaikovsky’s timeless music, and dozens of local children. Nutcracker is a visual and musical spectacle, a holiday confection which preserves the best of the Russian tradition and spices it up with uniquely Canadian ingredients.
Best moment: one of my children wondered aloud why the male ballet dancers don’t wear “real pants.”
Let’s hear it for the mouths of babes … !
Speaking of babes, we loved the children in this production, many of whom were local kids. Oh, they were adorable, dressed in period costume, and as cavorting mice (“Look at their tails mummy! And their funny bums!”), and as angels.
Both girls recognized a lot of the music, which I think is pretty darn cool. It is interesting how music that is over a century old is still so recognizable. (Talk about longevity!)
For many people (including myself) the Nutcracker suite will be forever associated with Disney’s Fantasia. I loved this sequence when I was a kid. And I am physically unable to NOT think about mushrooms when I hear the Chinese Dance.
Sadly (for me) I wasn’t very informed as to which song was which. I think this one is called the Waltz of the Flowers, I’d whisper. And when the next number started I wondered if that really was the Waltz of the Flowers. Clearly I need a brush up on my Tchaikovsky.
I was happy that the NAC published a summary of the story of the Nutcracker in the programmes. I knew the general idea of the story (there’s a girl named Clara and she receives a toy nutcracker for Christmas etc …), but there were a couple of parts that we needed to clarify. Such as, what were all those international people doing in the dream forest exactly?
There is a really interesting Wikipedia entry about the Nutcracker here. Scroll down to “synopsis” to learn a bit about how the storyline differs in different productions.
It is fascinating that the basics are kind of the same everywhere, but each company puts their own spin on the story. I know this is glaringly obvious, but here is a story that is told without words, just with dance, music, costumes (not to mention set design) and body language. We talked a lot about how that can be done. The only thread binding them all together is the long ago work of a brilliant composer.
I think we all got a lot out of our visit to the NAC. Best of all, it started to snow when we left the theatre … a truly magical ending to a magical evening.