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Children and costumes highlight Boston Ballet's Nutcracker


Presented by Boston Ballet.

At the Wang Center, Nov. 23 to Dec. 30.



CHILDREN DOMINATED the Boston Ballet's Sunday evening performance of the time-honored family classic, The Nutcracker. It was difficult to tell who enjoyed the show more -- the more than 40 children who danced on the stage or the crowd of youngsters dressed in their finest attire who chattered with curiosity and excitement through the two-hour production.

With over 250 children from the greater Boston area appearing in the 48-performance run of the production, most of the show's acts relied heavily on the children's charm to captivate the audience. No adult soloists appeared until 45 minutes after the show began, in the snowflake scene.

The central character in The Nutcracker, Clara, played by Lian-Marie Holmes, appeared to be a little young for her demanding role, but made up for her lack of ability with a childish charm and obvious pride in her important position. Dr. Drosselmeyer, the mysterious magical man in black, delights both the audience and performers with his mechanical dancers and the performing bear, a new addition to the traditional Nutcracker cast. The role was played by Vadim Strukov, whom The Boston Globe called a "larger-than-life, slightly possessed presence."

As the comical elderly grandmother, Tony Collins made his 24th-season appearance in The Nutcracker. Collins has performed a number of roles in the ballet, ranging from the Snow Queen to Mother Ginger, the mother of eight children who live under her skirt.

The first serious duet with the Snow King and Queen in the enchanted forest, with Trinidad Sevillano and Patrick Armand, showed off their long lines and prodigious strength. Other notable dancing highpoints of the show came with the character dances in the second act.

The Spanish dancers, the Arabian dancers, and the Russian dancers performed their short pieces with a contagious effervescence that set the audience clapping wildly. Ballet combined with acrobatics will make their dances a long-time favorite with spectators. Dierdre Myles danced an elegant but stiff role as the Sugarplum Fairy in Act II of the ballet.

Scenery was colorful and dramatic. One of the most stunning displays of craftsmanship came after Dr. Drosselmeyer cast a spell over Clara's household. The entire set assumed gothic proportions, dwarfing the characters until they were the same size as invading mice. The Christmas tree grows to 45 feet tall in front of the startled Clara.

This season's production of The Nutcracker comes highly recommended with a note: Those who attend will see a show of children and bright costumes, not a show of fabulous dancing. The company does a fine job of performing the myriad roles needed for The Nutcracker, but the lifeblood of the show is in its youth.