There wasn’t a single nut cracked in the entire show. Can it even be called “The Nutcracker” if there’s no nuts? False advertising if you ask me - and yet, the show was a fun romp regardless!
The Symphony of the Canyons’ 2022 Nutcracker show was quite a delight. A small town production of a ballet doesn’t often elicit outright gasps of awe, but this one did on more than one occasion - generally associated with spectacular shows of acrobatics and technical prowess. Between the sword-wielding acrobatics of Andrew Clarkson as the nutcracker, the stage snow falling during the dance of the snow queen, and the cavalcade of little dancers emerging from the enormous Mother Ginger prop, there were plenty of opportunities for “oohs” and “aahs.”
Top left to right:
Allison Corry during her solo as the Snow Queen on Friday night.
The children at the party dancing excitedly with Christmas gifts in hand. Mother Ginger (played by Red Rock Studios Director Jenna Corry) and darling group of Polichinelles.
Dance of the Reed Flute dancers: Allison Corry, Rachel Jantz, Avalee Stott and Miley Wright. Clara Stahlbaum (Elise Donoho) and the Nutcracker (Andrew Clarkson) during one of their several dances together.
The Sugar Plum Fairy (played by Studio 12 teacher Alivia Foster) and her Cavalier (played by her husband Aaron Foster) wow the audience with their beautiful ballet performance.
Trepak (Russian) dancers: Grafton Ballard, Wyatt Ballard, Micah Barrus, Carter Berrie, Ledger Bowman, Parker Corry, Ernest Hulet, Bob Keller, Kody Keller, Ayden Palmer, Zeke Rogers, Logan White and Willis Wulfenstein.
Clara Stahlbaun (Elise Donoho) trying to escape the frightful grasp of the Rat Queen (played by Lyndsey Wulfenstein).
Audrey Young gave a spectacular performance as the wind-up doll showing off at the party.
Clara (Elise Donoho) and the Nutcracker (Andrew Clarkson) performed lift after lift with ease.
Coffee (Arabian) dancers: Cennley Anderson, BrytLee Johnson, Tylee Hafen, Jaylie Hatch, Aicklee Johnson, Rudi Rodriguez, Kollins Swindlehurst and Zoey Taylor.
Not to say the enjoyment of this show was restricted to the spectacle - there were plenty of laughs to be had as well. It’s always clear when somebody is a veteran of the stage, and Lyndsey Wulfenstein as the antagonist Rat Queen struck the tone of the play expertly: just sinister enough, with plenty of antics to keep things fun and magical. Naturally there was also plenty of delight to be had from the shows more youthful performers - if the “awws” of the crowd near me were anything to go by, tiny mice, little toy soldiers and Russian acrobats as portrayed by the involved dance studios’ younger attendees captured the audience’s heart in no time.
Now, a review of a ballet would be nothing without a critique of the music and the dancing. The Symphony of the Canyons has an interesting position, and their priorities show in their performance; open to students and community members with experiences ranging from rookie to veteran, as well as with a constantly rotating roster, the Symphony can sometimes show signs of a lack of cohesion. Forgivable, so long as the occasional sour note and slip in rhythm are signs of eager performers improving their craft and having a good time - this reviewer wouldn’t have it any other way, if it means getting more of the community engaged in the music. The musical performances made the show.
The priorities of the performance showed in the brevity of it - some of the story scenes, including the act three denouement, were omitted from this year’s performance. While there are a few story beats that omission left out, it also tightened up the show’s runtime and kept the focus more on the dances themselves. Many a parent in the audience were relieved for the shorter length - there is plenty of fun to be had for children in a show like this one, and trimming it down makes for less grumpy antics and fewer bathroom runs, making for an overall more kid-friendly experience.
Overall, the Symphony of the Canyons’ Nutcracker was a delight. I would recommend it to any musical lover, but especially to any parent who can take their little one to see the fun of a live stage show.
Keep an eye on the Symphony of the Canyons’ social media page for future performances, and be sure to check out Studio 12, Red Rock Studio and Precious Gems dance groups.