It’s a family tradition for many families. “The Nutcracker Ballet” is performed throughout the country by dance schools and amateur and professional dance companies.
Among the most celebrated are the annual performances of “The Nutcracker” by The Long Beach Ballet.
This annual holiday tradition will include six performances of “The Nutcracker” at the Long Beach Terrace Theater Dec. 14, 15, 21 and 22.
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The Long Beach Ballet’s Nutcracker has been seen by millions of people worldwide, including live audiences totaling more than 400,000 in Long Beach, 70,000 in Pasadena, hundreds of thousands throughout Asia (as performed by the Chinese Guangzhou Ballet) and millions more on television.
The 31st production of this classic tale will boast a full symphony orchestra, a flying sleigh, a live horse, on-stage pyrotechnics, and a cast of more than 200.
The enchanting scenery was created by former Disney designers Elliot Hessayon and Scott Schaffer, the detailed costumes designed by Australian artist Adrian Clark, and special effects by renowned magician Franz Harary.
The Long Beach Ballet is the only ballet company in Southern California that has a full symphony orchestra and is only one of two ballet companies in the country to use two harps for their production of The Nutcracker to ensure the performance sounds exactly as Tchaikovsky intended it, said Long Beach Ballet Artistic Director, David Wilcox.
“I like using the beauty of the classical art form of ballet, which has taken 500 years to develop to the level that it is today, to form a production that’s enticing and exciting. I have pyrotechnics, I have magic; I’ve got everything I can think of to make it thrilling,” he said. “This production is not just for people who like ballet. You can hate ballet and you’ll still like this production.”
Wilcox said his version of “The Nutcracker,” which premiered in 1983, was designed specifically for the Long Beach Terrace Theater, which seats 3,000.
“This is a big production,” said Wilcox. “It takes two 60-foot semi trucks to move the scenery in.”
A love for musical theater found Wilcox looking at all production aspects of “The Nutcracker.”
“To me it is all about the scenery, the story, the production, the beautiful music,” he said. “I like to thrill the audience. I want the audience to walk out of the theater saying, ‘Wow! That was amazing.’”
Wilcox co-founded the Long Beach Ballet in 1981. He was a professional dancer in Germany where he danced with the Berlin Ballet, the Nuremberg Ballet and the Heidelberg Ballet. A Los Angeles native Wilcox began studying dance at age 11 and also studied in London.
He has produced and directed nine ballet tours to Asia and has staged three full-length ballets for the Classical Ballet of Guangzhou, China: “The Nutcracker,” ‘La Bayadere” and “Cinderella.”
Wilcox said he is constantly seeking to improve “The Nutcracker” each year.
“We’re always tweaking it,” he said. “We have people who come every year to this production. I enjoy hearing their comments when they notice the changes and additions to the production.”
Family-friendly ticket prices are $28 to $65 with a special VIP Package available at $95 for adults, $80 for children and seniors, which includes choice Center Orchestra seating, parking, souvenir program, and a backstage pass.
Show times are Saturdays, Dec.14 and 21, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sundays, Dec. 15 and 22, at 2 p.m., at the Long Beach Terrace Theater.
Tickets can be purchased through the Long Beach Ballet “Hotline” at 877-852-3177, at all TicketMaster outlets, and the Long Beach Performing Arts Center Main Box Office.
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Source: Santa Clarita News