Seattle's Child

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A Parent’s Review: Nutcracker at International Ballet Theatre

If you're looking for a classical, traditional Nutcracker this season, International Ballet Theatre delivers with a production that draws on the style and choreography of the original Russian ballet, first presented in St. Petersburg in 1892.

From the opening scene, where dancers in sumptuous fur and velvet dress coats gather in the snow outside Clara's home and Herr Drosselmeyer hauls his holiday gifts on a wooden sled, it's clear the magic won't come from Maurice Sendak here, just gorgeous costumes and simple but sparkling sets (evidently they're custom made for IBT in the Ukraine.)

The dancers' overall quality is high, with guest principals from the Kirov Ballet in Russia. To my mind, the lack of a live orchestra is the only drawback in this show. Although the volume of the recorded music was mostly fine, at the show's end, a series of deafening blasting trumpet calls (that signal the final encore) caused a lot of kids – and this adult, too – to clamp our hands over our ears.

My daughter and her friend loved when Drosselmeyer hangs from the sky in an oversized blue Christmas ornament to cast his magic over Clara with a lighted, jeweled scepter. He floats in and out of the scenes, at one point blowing bubbles over the dancing pixies and butterflies – my personal favorite costume of the night, with undulating, shimmering wings that really emphasize the choreography.

Harlequin, riding a miniature bike across the stage, prompted some laughs, as did the mouse prince and princess and the show's youngest performers, a cadre of scurrying fuzzy baby mice. The costumes for the "Waltz of the Flowers" seem to come straight from a little girl's ballet dream; they're a swirling confection of flowing pink tulle and jeweled bodices.

For kids 12 and under, there's a free Nutcracker children's party on Sat., Dec. 18 at 1 p.m., an hour before the 2 p.m. matinee performance, where they can meet some of the characters, learn the history of the Nutcracker and get a sweet treat. Call 425-822-7694 or e-mail to reserve your spot.

You can shop for the requisite Nutcracker goodies in the theater lobby, but most kids seemed more intrigued with the roving Christmas tree singing "Jingle Bells" that tailed theater-goers. Kids peered inside to see if a person was hidden within (answer: yes, manning a control panel.) Intermission goodies included wine, beer, coffee and various cookies and cakes, with plenty of tables and chairs. Parking at the theater costs $8.



Where: Meydenbauer Theatre, 11100 N.E. 6th St., Bellevue. 

When: Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 18 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Dec. 19 at 2 p.m.; Wed., Dec. 22 at 7:30 p.m., and Dec. 23 at 2 p.m.

Admission: Adults $50, students and seniors (62 and older) $40, children (12 and under) $25.

Contact: 425-284-0444; For tickets call 800-838-3006 or order online at The box office opens one hour before show times and sells tickets as available.

Lynn Schnaiberg is a Seattle freelance writer and mom.

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Lynn Schnaiberg