Which North Texas Nutcracker Production Should You See?

Last year, dance critic Danna Reubin gave you a wonderfully comprehensive run-down on how the various productions of The Nutcracker stack up. This year, I provide the basics, and then add her professional thoughts where appropriate.

Classic Performances

Texas Ballet Theater : Winspear Opera House and the Bass Hall.

Dance critic Danna Reubin calls this the “most professional production of the season,” despite the absence of a live orchestra. It’s not just a family-friendly spectacle, though all the bells and whistles—including a magical snowfall— delight. The caliber of the dancing sets it apart.

Tuzer Ballet : Eisemann Center in Richardson. (Dec. 17-18)

Tanju Tuzer and his wife, Patricia, have produced their Nutcracker for 27 years. According to Danna, “Tuzer packs a lot of dancing into the first half of the ballet” rather than plodding through plot. However, she says, “larger ensemble pieces, Kingdom of the Snow and Waltz of the Flowers, are somewhat under choreographed.” Still, the production is not lacking in moments that will fill you with holiday cheer.

Chamberlain School of Performing Arts : Eisemann Center (Nov. 25-27)

Founder and director Kathy Chamberlain puts on a production that mixes local pre-professionals and celebrated dancers from New York City Ballet. NYCB principal Wendy Whelan returns in the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy, while principal Tyler Angle takes over as the Cavalier.

Festival Ballet of North Texas : Margo Jones Auditorium, Texas Woman’s University (Dec. 10 & 11)

Choreographed by Festival Ballet’s artistic director Hugh Nini in the classical tradition, cast members are chosen through open audition. For tickets and more information, go here.

LakeCities Ballet Theatre : Stuver Auditorium, Lewisville High School (Nov. 26 & 27)

American Ballet Theatre principal Julie Kent returns as the Sugar Plum Fairy, and this year, she’s joined by Jose Manuel Carreño in role of Clara’s Cavalier. From Danna: “LakeCities features lavish costumes, set design, and the rare opportunity to hear a Nutcracker in North Texas that features a live orchestra, the Lewisville Lake Symphony led by Maestro Adron Ming.” For more information and tickets, go here.

Collin County Ballet Theatre : Eisemann Center (Dec. 21-23)

Danna is less of a fan of the CCBT production, though it is one of the only ones to feature a live orchestra. She says that “the story gets a bit of a short shrift in this production, and Kirt Hathaway’s choreography is musically unsatisfying. The Nutcracker ballet is one of the few works in the repertoire that is truly aimed at a children’s audience, but CCBT doesn’t seem to have the magic that grabs the children’s attention. Regrettably, it’s not just the audience that is shortchanged — the cast is too.” For tickets, go here.

Momentum Dance Company, Ballet Ensemble of Texas, Colleyville Ballet  : Irving Arts Center

Various local companies perform their variations on The Nutcracker in Irving Arts’ Carpenter Hall. Momentum is Nov. 25-27, Ballet Ensemble is Dec 3 and 4, and Colleyville is on Dec 10 and 11. For tickets, go here.

Kids and Spoofs

Dallas Children’s Theater : Rosewood Center for Family Arts. (Through Dec. 18)

The Nutcracker is a holiday classic. But what makes this particular production just a wee bit different from the rest is that it’s performed entirely with puppets. These little versions of Clara and her nutcracker prince will twirl to Tchaikovsky’s music just like real boys and girls.

 The Beulaville Baptist Book Club Presents a Bur-less-Q Nutcracker :  Stone Cottage – Addison Theatre and Conference Center

Writer/actor Mark-Brian Sonna is back with his spoof on ballet’s bread and butter. Deep in debt, the ladies of the Beulaville Baptist Book Club hire the Beaumont Ballet to perform The Nutcracker as a last-ditch fundraising effort. Unfortunately, the dancers eat some bad piña colada casserole, and the women must scramble to find a replacement cast. The Velvet Kittens Burlesque Dancers happen to be available.

The Nutty Nutcracker : Bass Performance Hall (Dec 23)

The Texas Ballet Theater has a little fun at their own expense with this “naughty” and “nutty” take on The Nutcracker. This one isn’t for kids, so make alternate arrangements.