In Pacific Northwest Ballet’s 2018 production of the Nutcracker, every detail shines: glorious dancing, Tchaikovsky’s score performed live by a wonderful orchestra, playful sets, eye-popping costumes, and gravity-defying hair. It is the result of hundreds of creative professionals working together, and it makes for a show that keeps kids enthralled.
There’s a lot to see. There are professional dancers doing expressive, gravity-defying moves, as well as child ballet students – lots of them in every scene. Besides the roles of Clara and the Little Prince, there are also young Pacific Northwest Ballet school students portraying party-goers, mice, toy soldiers, Polchinelles and more.
The sets and costumes are designed by Ian Falconer, author and illustrator of Olivia (who is drawn watching from a box near the stage, with an eager smile). There are lots of bright colors, wonky perspectives, and fun details.
The Pacific Northwest Ballet has been doing George Balanchine’s choreography of the Nutcracker since 2015, and they bring out the warmth and the whimsy of it to make a truly child-centered show. (See also: "Annie" at Seattle's 5th Avenue: Just try not to smile!)
If you go, dress up! McCaw Hall, always swanky, is decked out in Christmas finery, and it’s fun to feel like part of the party. There are also fun props in the lobby for family pictures.
Before the show, and during the intermission, consider walking down to the orchestra pit looking over the rail at the musicians warming up. Also, before the show starts, explain that the orchestra is going to tune up. Knowing what's happening can turn something confusing to something interesting.
McCaw Hall provides booster seats for kids, so they’ll be able to see from anywhere in the house. Charmingly, the red booster seats on the hall’s turquoise seats match the colors of the Nutcracker. As I said, every detail shines.