By Bridget Seelinger | The Duquesne Duke
Boasted as Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s most lavish production, “The Nutcracker” is almost ready for audiences to enjoy again once the curtain is lifted on Friday, Dec. 4. In its studio on Liberty Avenue, the company has been waltzing and whirling for over a month, putting together what they hope will be their best production yet.
Featuring some of the troupe’s most elegant costumes, “The Nutcracker” tells the story of Marie, who is given a nutcracker by her uncle at a Christmas party. She awakes the night after the party to find herself in the middle of an epic struggle between her Christmas toys and the rats who are threatening to invade her home. Her nutcracker is leading the charge, defending her and once the rats are defeated, he magically changes into a prince. He invites Marie to his kingdom and it is there that she takes part in the party celebrating the defeat of the rats. Set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless music, “The Nutcracker” is a holiday tradition, especially in Pittsburgh.
For the dancers, this production is highly anticipated every year. Soloist Hannah Carter said two of her favorite dances in “The Nutcracker” are the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Arabian.
“It’s magic and fun and the music is amazing,” Carter said. “I love being able to do all of the different roles.”
“The Nutcracker” offers more versatility for dancers in the company due to the large amount of roles available. This production is often one that professional dancers remember as their first time on the big stage.
Carter said that she enjoys working with the younger dancers.
“The kids are so sweet and so well behaved,” Carter said. “We can tell they are excited.”
Julia Erickson, a principal dancer in the company, is especially excited about the richness and history that this version of “The Nutcracker” highlights.
“There are a lot of details in the production that have to do with the city [Pittsburgh] and its history and that is really special,” she said. “I know that our director, Terrence S. Orr, put a lot of care into creating the libretto to be rich and really represent the region while still telling the story of “The Nutcracker.”
Some examples of this include the beautiful backdrops of Pittsburgh throughout the production and the inclusion of Mr. and Mrs. Kaufmann, the founders of one of Pittsburgh’s largest department stores in the party scene in Act 1. Last year, there was even a reference to the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first act that drew a few laughs from the audience. All of these little details help make the troupe’s production unique to Pittsburgh while still telling the original story.
A few changes to this year’s production make the debut on Dec. 4 all the more anticipated. The troupe has said that viewers can look for a bigger and better Christmas tree during the Act 1 party scene, in addition to an updated Rat King costume. There are also some changes to the Waltz of the Flowers scene with the addition of four more dancers and some alterations in the snowflake dance.
Students and faculty can purchase discounted tickets by using the promo code PBTDUQ with ticket prices starting at around $15. The show will be performed weekends through Dec. 27