The Nutcracker at PPAC

What would the holidays be without some fanciful dreaming and a kingdom of sweets?

We’ve all grown up, but the magic of the holidays still kindles softly within us, aching to be provoked. Sometimes that feeling returns in full by something minor, like a favorite carol playing on low in a neighborhood coffee shop, or by something grand, like Festival Ballet Providence’s production of The Nutcracker at PPAC.

Even before the dancing begins, you’re already cascading into holiday bliss as clusters of people prance through a winter scene, throwing snowballs, causing mischief and huddling together to keep warm. Now top that off with a tiny dog named Archie chasing after them in a festive holiday sweater.

Queue up the lighting of the tree, the eccentric uncle’s inventions and the gifting of the toy nutcracker. Then comes the real excitement — Clara’s fanciful Christmas dream, filled with combat, a handsome prince, a magical land of snow and some exquisite dancing.

With every Nutcracker show, it’s always a tough draw between the toy soldier/mice battle scene and the international performances at the Kingdom of Sweets. Festival Ballet’s production is no exception.

Although she dons a large headpiece for the dance, Lauren Menger is brilliantly emotive as the Queen of the Mice. Her body slithers almost spinelessly as she taunts the Nutcracker Prince, and when she is finally defeated and dragged off-stage, the last bit of her life poetically creeps out through a quivering leg.

After the battle, the Nutcracker Prince and Clara embark on a journey to the Kingdom of Sweets. Upon arrival, they are met by arguably the most adorable floating angels in the history of The Nutcracker, dancers from Festival Ballet’s young children program.

In recognition of her bravery during the battle scene, Clara’s hosts, the Snow King and Queen, bring in dancers from far-away countries to entertain her. Matching Menger’s on-stage presence is Jennifer Ricci as the Arabian coffee dancer. Ricci commands the audience’s attention with her sensuality, and demonstrates a graceful mastery of both the stage and her partner, Roger Fonnegra.

Many of the dancers, including young Clara, switch roles from night to night, but luckily for the audience, Menger and Ricci grace the stage in their respective roles for every performance.  

Festival Ballet’s The Nutcracker will ignite the magic of the holidays in both the old and the young (if they can get over the sight of grown men in tights, as the girls seated behind me did in due course). Don’t miss this holiday production, on stage at PPAC through Sunday afternoon.

 

For ticket information, visit ppacri.org or call the box office at 421-ARTS.