It had been like 30 years since I'd seen the full William Christensen's (some distant relation of mine, actually) full Ballet West version of the Nutcracker. I remember the growing tree. I remember a gigantic lady under whose skirts out came hundreds of dancing babies. I remember thinking Clara was the star of the show.
This year, just like when I was a kid, I sat in the Capitol Theater on the main floor behind really tall people. The theater has wised up and hands out extra cushions for the kids but the people who sat in front of us were even too tall for the cushions to overcome so I watched the back of my niece's head for the most part as she sat on my lap and strained her neck.
Not being able to see might account for part of my troubles but I have some questions about the plot.
For instance, why would invite that Dr. Drosselmeyer who is obviously up to something when he put on a patch right before he went into the party? Was he pretending he was a pirate? Is it a bit weird he brought a special present for a little girl?
In these days of post-Spiegelman's "Maus," how can you not root for the giant mice and cringe when little Clara kills the Mouse King? The Nutcracker turns into a Prince? He takes Clara out all night? Isn't she a bit young to be out with a boy past say, 7 p.m.?
I kept telling my mother-in-law, who invited me and Zoe and Zoe's cousin, that the Sugar Plum Fairy was being danced by a man. She was like, "No. It was a woman." She looked it up in the playbook. It read Jacqueline something. I was like, "Otherwise known as Jack."
"Do you mean Mother Baffoon? She's played by a man."
"That big thing with the dress isn't the Sugar Plum Fairy?"
"No. That's Mother Baffoon. The Sugar Plum Fairy is the ballerina that dances the whole time." I always thought the little kids were the sugar plum and the Fairy would give them sugar plums. Maybe after they did their good dancing? I don't know I was 7. Again, another clash of other stories. "Visions of sugar plums danced in their heads."
So I did learn something although this Mother Baffoon only had like 8 kids run out from under her dress so it wasn't quite the spectacle I remember. Still, it was good to see The Nutcracker again only so if Zoe asks questions about how the tree grew so big and why Mother Baffoon has such a big dress and such big man-hands, I can try to explain although how it is that the nutcracker cracks no nuts through the whole ballet I have no answer for.