The good news is that Alberta Ballet is bringing “The Nutcracker” back to Spokane this week for a four-day, five-performance run at the Opera House with the Spokane Symphony. The other good news is that the production is new - specifically new costumes and new sets.
For years the Calgary-based ballet company has boasted one of the prettiest “Nutcracker” productions in the West and toured the Christmas ballet to Spokane.
Since last December, Alberta Ballet had designer Paul Diagle create new costumes and Roger Lavoie designed new sets, built by Hans Schmidt, noted for his work on the sets of “Phantom of the Opera,” “Les Miserables,” “Miss Saigon” and “Showboat.”
In addition, the choreography has been updated by Alberta Ballet’s artistic director Ali Pourfarrokh to include more children and more characters.
And, parents of very young children should note the rats, who engage in a heated battle early in the ballet, have a friendlier face in this version of “The Nutcracker.” The rats can be made to look quite fierce and threatening, as they are in the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Sendak “Nutcracker,” which frightens children in the audience.
Area children will perform in many of the roles in the ballet, such as the mice, soldiers, rats, reindeer and bon bons. The roles of Clara and Fritz will also be danced by local students.
Stephan Kozinski will conduct the Spokane Symphony.
While not complicated, the story of “The Nutcracker” is not readily understandable by just watching the dancing. Parents of children who don’t know this story can find copies of the E.T.A. Hoffmann book at the library and book stores. Reading the story to children prior to the performance will allow all audience members to enjoy the ballet without the need for conversation during the dancing.
Balletgoers should also note those who arrive after the performance has begun will not be seated until the first intermission.
“The Nutcracker” will be staged throughout the region this week. Performances in Pullman, Coeur d’Alene, Sandpoint and Lewiston will be by Eugene Ballet.
That “Nutcracker,” too, will be the traditional version and local children will perform with the troupe.
In Coeur d’Alene, the North Idaho College Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Todd Snyder, will perform with the ballet company.
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