After the lights had come up and dancers had bowed, after the wild cheering and yelling “Brava” had stopped and the curtains had closed, I sat back in my chair at the Warner Theatre and realized that trying to capture the magic of the Nutmeg’s Nutcracker with mere words was an impossible task. Even if I used my photos or my art to supplement what I wrote, my photographs would capture just a moment in time and my drawings at best would carry with it the flow of a brush or pen but in the end there would only remain static images. The enchantment of a live ballet performance is the polar opposite of static images.
Ballet is movement.
Ballet is action.
Ballet is storytelling by dancers who are athletes, actors and artists all in one.
Ballet at its best is a work of magic and it’s meant to be experienced in person.
The best way that I can share this experience is not simply through words but by taking an action. So I will write about what was around the experience to give the show context but my action will be to give away two tickets to a child who has never seen the Nutcracker and their parent with nothing else required other than an expression of interest by the parent. And those tickets did go to a child who had not seen the show before.
It was the city of Torrington that celebrated The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory and their historic 45th year this Friday night. Festivities commenced at the Five Points Arts Gallery on Water Street as Judith McElhone, the executive director of Five Points invited The Nutmeg’s Founder Sharon Dante, the Nutmeg’s Artistic Director Victoria Mazzarelli, and other distinguished guests to celebrate in an exhibit tailor made for the occasion.
The December exhibit featured 3 prominent artists in different mediums who connect deeply with The Nutmeg. Ann Scoville is a sculptor whose work is featured on the Nutmeg Building itself.
Don Perdue is a photographer whose images have defined the Nutmeg’s history for decades. Salvatore Gulino is an artist whose work is prominent within the Nutmeg’s building itself; his Nutcracker painting is displayed in the Dance Shop at the Nutmeg today.
Later that night, Lynn Gelomino’s team welcomed the Nutmeg dignitaries to the Warner Theatre. Guests perused the nutcracker collection in the lobby while the performers and crew finalized their preparations on stage.
Once the invitees were in their seats, Principal Ballet Master Tim Melady welcomed the group to this special Nutcracker performance.
Then Board of Directors Treasurer Joe Fazzino spoke and cordially invited distinguished guests Torrington Mayor Elinor Carbone and Connecticut State Representative Michelle Cook to speak.
Mayor Carbone presented Sharon Dante and Victoria Mazzarelli with Torrington’s certificate of appreciation in recognition of the 45 year history of the Nutmeg in the city.
Then State Representative Michelle Cook in the dual role of representing the state of Connecticut and representing on behalf of Congressperson Elizabeth Esty provided state and congressional recognition of the Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory.
Then as the lights dimmed and the guests settled in to their seats, the spot light shone on the curtain as it was pulled back and the show began….
Here’s some perspective on the show: When an audience attends the Nutmeg’s Nutcracker they are going to see a world class professional Nutcracker. Those who will attend the Nutmeg’s Nutcracker at the Bushnell expect and will receive a professional show in the same way that Hartford audience enjoyed the performance of Wicked in November. On their website the Bushnell writes the Nutcracker is “a delicious treat for the child in all of us performed one of the most respected classical ballet conservatories in America”. Nutmeg’s Nutcracker is the longest running production of the Nutcracker in the state. For many attending at the Bushnell, the Nutcracker is a holiday tradition and it’s worth traveling over an hour to get to Hartford to see but as we live in Torrington, we have the opportunity to see the show right here at the Warner.
The sets and the technical achievements of the team behind the scenes are phenomenal and I won’t write about them specifically to preserve the magic. I must say, however, that Susan Fazzino’s costumes are superb. The glorious touch of having eyes of the mice glow a radiant red in the dark is an affect all the more accentuated when the mice and tin soldiers fight in the BATTLE OF MICE AND SOLDIERS, a scene expertly choreographed by Torrington School of Ballet’s Director Susan Szabo. The choreography by Victoria Mazzarelli, Tim Melady, Joan Kunsch, Susan Szabo, Eleanor D”Antuono and Sharon Dante is beautiful as it is exceptional
Dr. Drosselmeyer is portrayed with flair and style by European stage actor Thomas Evertz. Evertz’s Drosselmeyer is both mysterious and playful and a commanding presence on stage. At times he appears as a menacing figure to the adults but he is much beloved by the children. The Nutcracker story is about a magical night created by this mysterious Dr. Drosselmeyer but ultimately all of The Nutmeg dancers are true magicians. They enter on stage bathed in spotlights, working together and trusting each other as much as they trust their own abilities and sometimes defying even gravity itself to ignite our imaginations. That is true magic.
This is the show that I hope you experience.
In Thursday’s article in the Register Citizen about the Nutcracker performances I wrote, “Imagine a young person (your child, grandchild, nephew or niece) discovering for the first time the magic of this holiday treasure. Imagine your own sense of wonder as you’re inspired by these young performers expertly performing! This might be one of the events this year that can make this a Christmas season to remember!” On Friday I experienced that sense of discovery and wonder firsthand during the technical rehearsal preview of the Nutcracker at the Warner Theatre. Now I would like to share that sense of wonder with someone whose child has never seen the Nutcracker.
Sponsored by myself personally and the Dance Shop at the Nutmeg, I obtained two balcony tickets to the Sunday Dec 7th 2pm performance. I offered to give them to a parent and a child if that child has never seen the Nutcracker before. That’s it. There was nothing to purchase, the person just had to say that their child has never seen the Nutcracker show. They were able to comment on this website (by 8pm EST on Saturday Dec 6th ) or comment on facebook (as I posted it on facebook). There were 21 responses. A mom named Kimberly Crane won and she is bringing her daughter.