SEASONAL FUN- Kelsey Miller

Magical tradition continues with The Nutcracker

There are lots of fresh, colourful touches to this year’s rendition of the seasonal classic The Nutcracker, staged by Red Deer College Conservatory of Ballet.

Packed with all the traditional charms audiences expect from a legendary Christmas show the production runs Dec. 18-19 on the Arts Centre mainstage. Curtain is at 7 p.m. both nights and a matinee runs Dec. 19 at 1:30 p.m. as well.

Director Tania Strader says success with the show comes from finding the balance between holding onto traditional charms and adding a few fresh touches along the way.

Strader, who is been at the helm of the show for about 10 years now, says about five new sets of costumes are added each year to further brighten and evolve the production.

The Nutcracker ballet is based on a book called The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, published by German writer E.T.A. Hoffman in 1816.

Clara’s mysterious and magical uncle Drosselmeier comes calling on Christmas Eve bearing gifts, including a nutcracker for Clara.

She later dreams it is a prince leading the toy soldiers to battle against the menacing rats and their king.

This year’s storyline is slightly changed, with the fathers being away at war. Also, young Clara visits a number of countries in the show’s glittering dream sequence in the second act which sees her royally entertained with games and dances.

“Clara goes on this journey in her dream to look for her dad in all these different countries, so it’s a little bit different,” explains Strader. “We’ve also been able to add some new characters because she’s going to a couple of new countries as well.”

Strader said the concept of having Clara visit these enchanting places is better suited to following a story line than in previous years, where the second act was more like a showcase of various international sweets.

Hoffman, a German writer, composer, caricaturist, and painter, was known for his stories in which supernatural characters reveal people’s hidden secrets. Of course, there’s the sweeping, elegant score written by Tchaikovsky as well. He began work on the project in early 1892 before beginning a tour of the United States, completing it later that summer.

Meanwhile, audiences can expect to settle in for a fascinating journey; a tale that hasn’t remotely lost its sense of wonder.

For Strader, it’s an exhilarating artistic journey that also never fades with each retelling. Indeed – The Nutcracker is a hugely popular Christmas tradition around the world.

“You have to keep true to the story, but you have to break out a little bit too,” explains Strader, adding that keeping the traditional structure of the story intact is critical as well.

It’s also an engaging opportunity for young dancers to perform in something so unique, and not under the formal banner of ‘competition.’

“You get all of that excitement and energy.”

For tickets to The Nutcracker, call Ticketmaster at 403-340-4455 or visit www.ticketmaster.ca.

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