I have found a love and deep appreciation of the one of the oldest and most iconic Christmas traditions: The Nutcracker ballet. Tonight was opening night of the Louisville Ballet's Nutcracker. It's been running for 50 years in Louisville; this is the second year of the new, localized production. It's in someways different from the traditional ballet version of the Nutcracker, but apparently closer to the original book version. The main character is Marie not Clara; she's older, not a little girl. There were changes in choreography, staging, sets, etc. I've never seen the original version, so I really don't have anything to compare it to, unless you count a very, good cartoon movie version.
I never saw the Nutcracker as a kid and as I got older, I always associated it with being aimed towards younger kids. Working at the theatre though, I was taken aback by how many grown people love the Nutcracker. It's one of those shows that appeal to everyone, even people who aren't particularly artsy folk. One of my co-workers told me she went last year for the first time; she spontaneously bought a cheap ticket. She said she had so much fun and sitting next to a little girl who was completely into the show made it more so. I decided I had to go see the show at least once in my life. This week, we got an opportunity to get staff comps.
I took my friend Matt Tobbe with me because he really enjoyed the last ballet we saw, Giselle. Matt and I are almost always late for everything. We both left work late. The weather was awful; it snowed/rained--slushed--all day, and traffic was terrible. Matt and I both take forever to get ready to go anywhere nice. We were both convinced we were going to be late. WE ARRIVED AT THE THEATRE EARLY! In spite of everything, I was on time picking Matt up, and we got to the theatre exactly one hour early. Obviously to celebrate our achievement and not the ballet's opening night, there was a fancy reception with hors d'oeuvres and drinks. Matt got to smoke extra cigarettes, and I had snack and chill time.
I loved Nutcracker for all the magic and sparkles.The show was seriously magical. There were so many amazing tricks like turning a small wooden nutcracker into a life sized moving nutcracker. I think my favorite trick was when the life sized "dolls" of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier were pulled from seemingly small boxes, perfectly poised. I thought the best part of the whole performance was the Snow Pas De Deux/Waltz of the Snowflakes! That musical number is my favorite of the entire ballet, and the scene was the most beautiful one I'd ever seen! To top it all off, at the end it snowed in the audience as well as on stage! Matt's favorite part was the Russian Caviar; the dancers did flips and awesome spins. We both loved the dance between the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier. There was a large number of children in the production. They were all students at the Louisville Ballet School. I was impressed by how good all of them were! Uber cuteness was not the only factor in their being cast. The kids made the show twenty times more fun. Again, Matt and I thought the show was simply amazing and wonderful!
Something weird and funny also happened. I took of my high heel shoes when I sat down because I usually pull my feet up into my seat. At intermission, Matt went out to smoke, and I wanted to get a drink of water. I reached down and grabbed one shoe, but couldn't find the other. I thought maybe it had fallen down in the row in front; not there. I looked to see if it had been kicked over a few seats in my row, I checked my tote bag, and the row behind me. I was baffled as to what could have happened to my one shoe. Could someone have found it and taken it to lost and found? Why just one shoe?
When the lady and guy sitting next to me returned to their seats, I asked her if she had found or kicked a shoe. She said, "Yeah, I found a shoe and put it in my bag." What normal person, finds a single shoe, and puts it in their bag?! I am pretty sure she was a combination of toasted and weird based on her following comments. "I found the shoe and put it in my bag. I thought it might be one of my shoes. (really, just one shoe randomly laying around on the floor?) I have really small feet (note: she was quite big--not obese, but big; she did say it with a joking tone)." She proceeds to pin this giant sparkly flower on her shirt, then show me & the guy in-between us (who she came with) the new nutcracker she had purchased. "This is the new nutcracker. It's different from last year's; it's sparkly." The guy asked her if she collected all of them; she answered, "So what if I do?" Then she turns to me and says, "This is my brother NOT my lover. Just so you know." Needless to say, conversation was very awkward, in spite of the humor.
Matt thought the lady was nice. He said we should go see Nutcracker again drunk and act like that lady and steal people's shoes and put them in my bag. I really hope I win the Nutcracker ticket sales contest so I can get a $50 Bristol Bar & Grill gift certificate and four tickets to see Nutcracker; I'd settle for second place and getting two free tickets. I know I'll definitely be making plans and saving to see the show next December! Oh and also, as I was driving Matt home we saw FIREWORKS! It's because we were early for the first time in forever! Matt and I realized tonight we never got to eat strawberries and see fireworks in the same day before because we were always late. Well tonight changed all that! Tomorrow we'll be back to our normal, tardy selves.