There’s always been something comforting in the familiarity of The Nutcracker, and
this year’s production from the Philippine Ballet Theatre did not disappoint. It was a delight from start to finish.
The Nutcracker tells the story of young Clara, and the special Christmas gift she receives from her godfather, master toymaker Herr Drosselmeyer. He gives her a wooden nutcracker carved in the shape of a little man. At the stroke of midnight, Clara’s adventures begin as the Nutcracker magically transforms into a prince, leads an army of toy soldiers against the mice king, and takes her to the Land of Sweets.
Here she meets Spanish, Arabian, Chinese, and Russian dancers representing the sweets of the world, as well as Reed Flute dancers and waltzing flowers. This is the section that features pieces from the famous Nutcracker Suite, so it’s no surprise that the audience warmly applauded and cheered each number in turn.
(READ: Celebrate Christmas Early with PBT’s The Nutcracker)
Surprisingly, there was no live orchestra for this performance. It would have added another layer of enjoyment to hear these gorgeous melodies live, but this is a minor point as the other elements made up for it. The delectable scenery of enchanted forests and massive candy canes and cupcakes that looked good enough to eat; the giant Christmas tree of lights; the lovely costumes that looked like confectionery and frosting; and the rustling tutus evoking dancing snowflakes – everything was a feast for the eyes. The flying sleigh used to transport Clara to the Land of Sweets also drew oohs and aahs from the appreciative audience.
Ian Ocampo was a strong and assured Nutcracker Prince, with his powerful leaps and turns that amazed the audience. Loby Pimentel and Veronica Atienza were breathtaking as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Dew Drop Fairy, respectively, and proved that The Nutcracker is what little girls’ ballet dreams are made of. They were ably supported by a company of excellent guest artists, several of whom were young children who played the elves and angels and who were clearly having the time of their lives on stage.
More than just a ballet, The Nutcracker has become an experience. After all, what’s not to love about this classic? It has fairies, candy, life-sized dolls, toy soldiers, and a nutcracker that comes to life, set against a backdrop of delectable scenery and the soaring music of Tchaikovsky. There were so many moments in the show where we had huge smiles on our faces, and that’s why the Nutcracker endures. Because at its heart, it shows that Christmas is about enjoying the little things and about allowing yourself, no matter how old you are, to bask in wonder.
And with the Christmas village at the Main Lobby of the CCP, with Christmas songs playing in the air and little girls doing pirouettes after the show, everything came together to bring that festive cheer, which is the best antidote to what has been a tumultuous year.
At the end of the ballet, Clara waves goodbye to the Sugarplum Fairy and Nutcracker Prince as she goes back to her world. Was it all just a dream, or was it magic? Well, everything about this production was a success, so we can wholeheartedly say that yes, it was magic.