As far as I'm concerned, the holidays are here, because I've just ordered our family tickets to this year's production of The Nutcracker, performed by the Pacific Northwest Ballet in McCaw Hall in Seattle.
I first saw this production when my husband and I were dating. We sat in the nosebleed seats (the only seats we could afford then) but still got an amazing view. Halfway through the production, he turned to me and asked, "When do they start talking?" It was then that I realized the poor guy had never attended a ballet before. I married him anyway.
There are many version of The Nutcracker performed in the Puget Sound area, but the PNB version is considered the gold standard. Set in a beautiful venue that also houses the Seattle Opera, this is a lavish production that began in 1983 with a set designed by Maurice Sendak, best known for his children's books such as Where the Wild Things Are. Attending this production has become an annual tradition for many families.
This will be my kids' first time at the PNB version. Two years ago I took them to another version performed by a smaller ballet company at a old local high school auditorium. The music was canned and the venue left a lot to be desired. Nevertheless, it was a beautifully done version and my daughter, who was five then, sat mesmerized the entire time. My son, who was nine, said it was "good" but wished for more sword-fighting action between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King. I think he'll enjoy the PNB's more theatrical version. My husband enjoyed it and knew not to expect any dialogue.
(On a crude and comic note, we sat in the front row and got a VERY close-up look at the dancers, including a view of the Nutcracker's groin area, which was apparent even under his tights. For days after that, my daughter, goaded on by her brother, would announce, "My favorite part was the wiener!" Ah, the memories she'll be able to share with her own kids.)
Anyway, I have made the mistake of telling my daughter that I ordered tickets to The Nutcracker, because she has now begun the "How many more days until...?" game. She's very excited and so am I.
But it's not all good news. I don't have the heart to tell her that our seats are farther from the stage this time so there will be no looking at anyone's "wieners." Oh, well, time to make some new memories.
Photo from www.pnb.org