Boston Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” rings in the holiday season

Boston Ballet’s company and students exhibited a radiance only matched by the elaborate set and lively orchestra––it is no surprise that “The Nutcracker” is a timeless Christmas tradition. 

Olivia Ray, Editor-in-Chief

Boston Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” led by Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen, celebrated a stunning opening night of the 2022 season at Citizens Bank Opera House on November 25. 

The curtains lifted to reveal the cold streets of 1820s Germany on Christmas Eve. Street urchins, played by Boston Ballet School students, gathered around an intricate toy store window to watch a Drosselmeier, a toymaker played by John Lam, with wide eyes. 

Drosselmeier made his way from his toy store to a family party, where the audience officially met his niece Clara, played by Chisako Oga. 

The grand party room is even more stunning than the set before, setting a standard of excellence carried throughout the show. Set and Costume Designer Robert Perdziola outdoes himself with every proceeding scene. 

From the outset of the show, it is clear that Nissinen’s choreography, first debuted by the Boston Ballet in 2013, honors the show’s 1892 origins in classical ballet, while still somehow managing to capture the spirit and complexity of more modern techniques.

Oga’s Clara and Fritz, played by Boston Ballet School Professional Division at Walnut Hill student Nataniel Taylor, play beautifully off of each other, capturing innocent sibling rivalry. 

Throughout the first scenes of “The Nutcracker,” Conductor Mischa Santora led the orchestra in a skillful execution of Tchaikovsky’s classic score, bringing the life on the stage to the farthest corners of the balcony. 

The production also stood out in its intentional use of pointe, a ballet technique in which dancers support their entire body weight on their toes. Most notably, Chisako Oga’s Clara was the only dancer depicting a child who danced en pointe. 

Once the children had gone to bed on Christmas Eve and the Nutcracker, played by Jeffrey Cirio, had become life-sized, out pranced my personal favorite characters––the Mice! 

As ever, the Mice were simply excellent. Their mischievous energy brought comedic relief for little ones in the audience and the middle-aged man seated near me alike. 

Not for nothing, their ability to show emotion with giant mouse heads on is truly remarkable. 

The first act wrapped up with the famous Snow Scene, with a particularly strong performance from the Lead Reindeer, played by a Boston Ballet School student. 

During both acts, Louise Hautefeuille and Brooke Wilson drew eyes in their ensemble roles. The dancers were a testament to the universal talent and dedication of the Boston Ballet.

The second act of “The Nutcracker” was marked by staggering individual talent. Chyrstyn Fentroy and Lasha Khozashvili’s Arabian Coffee set a tone of excellence with their flawlessly executed and technically difficult number.

Mother Ginger and her Polichinelles remain a crowd-pleaser––the eight children who ran out from under her enormous hoop skirt were met with cheers and laughter from the audience. 

The most delightful Boston Ballet School student performance, however, was undoubtedly the elementary school aged kids dressed as fluffy lambs. One wayward lamb––a black sheep, if you will–– had the audience in stitches as they sprinted on stage behind their peers.

A quiet “I wish I was a lamb” from the little girl in the row behind me further supports my theory that they absolutely stole the show.

The Russian Troika, played by Tyson Clark of Somerville with support from Rasmus Ahlgren and Sangmin Lee, stunned in an entirely different way. Clark’s straddle jumps reached fantastical heights and brought a renewed energy to the second act.

The Sugar Plum Fairy and Dew Drop, played by Ji Young Chae and Lia Cirio respectively, showcased flawless technique and quiet strength. 

While the Sugar Plum Fairy and Dew Drop are traditionally standout stars in “The Nutcracker,” the supporting cast matched them in talent and energy in this iteration of the show.

Boston Ballet’s company and students exhibited a radiance only matched by the elaborate set and lively orchestra––it is no surprise that “The Nutcracker” is a timeless Christmas tradition. 

“The Nutcracker” show calendar and tickets can be found on the Boston Ballet website. The show is running until December 31.