Berks Ballet’s “Nutcracker” charms for another year

The first thing you notice about the 45th annual production of “The Nutcracker” by The Berks Ballet Theater is the lighting.

The beautiful and beautiful lighting. Like a Rembrandt painting, golden light illuminates the delicate limbs of ballerinas swaying in the rain of artificial snow. Their shadows dance with them.

The warm, dreamy glow, combined with the outlines of the Scottish Rite Cathedral in West Reading, gives the illusion of peering into a toy theater filled with Herr Drosselmeyer’s (Nathan Bland) magical automata. Either that or a candlelit window on a frigid, dark December night. The lighting designer is not credited in BBT’s virtual “The Nutcracker” program, but whoever it is, I take my hat off to them.

“The Nutcracker,” performed live at the Scottish Rite for the first time since 2019 due to COVID-19, is a pure and pure Christmas.

It’s eggnog injected directly into your veins. It represents the infinite wonder and imagination of childhood, represented by a rising Tchaikovsky score and a little girl named Clara (Hennessey Kehs-Rossi at the performance I attended) in a nightgown holding a candle , watching for the vampy Mouse Queen (Gretchen Kimmel).

Bland and Kelly Barber’s choreography is accompanied by a theatrical battle between mice and tin soldiers and the thrilling waltz of snowflakes.

Act II features the famous Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (a breathtakingly elegant Ellie Folga) and the charming Waltz of Flowers. Just seeing ‘The Nutcracker’ performed by a live orchestra is enough to warm the shells of Ebenezer Scrooge himself, and under the baton of Dr Willis M. Rapp, the Reading Pops Orchestra has never sounded better. .

I would say that the most important character in the history of “The Nutcracker” is not Clara, nor The Nutcracker (Daniel Mayo) or the Horseman (Jace Coronado) but Drosselmeyer.

Photo courtesy of Katie Ging Photography.

He’s the one who gives Clara the nutcracker and turns it into the dashing Cavalier. Drosselmeyer lacks the high-flying acrobatic choreography of his castmates, but his role is central to the story. He is like the Wizard of Oz – a bridge between the magical world discovered by a young girl and the “ordinary” world she leaves behind.

In an interesting take, Drosselmeyer guides Clara through Act II, remaining as a father figure in Candy Land. I don’t remember Drosselmeyer playing such a big role in BBT’s “The Nutcracker” productions in 2018 and 2019.

The thing about traditions is that you can see them getting refined from year to year. At this rate, I can’t wait to see the “Nutcracker” that 2022 brings us.

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