Front Row Reviewers

Utah Metropolitan Ballet’s The Nutcracker Brings Beauty to Young and Old–Including One Bedazzled Three-Year-Old

Front Row Reviewers

Front Row Reviewers

Review by Jennifer Mustoe, Front Row Reviewers

The Utah Metropolitan Ballet brings a wonderful rendition of The Nutcracker to an enthusiastic crowd, and it is simply magnificent. Playing at the Covey Center for the Arts in Provo, this troupe is bringing shining, beautiful dancing to a full-house audience. We attended the opening performance, a matinee, and it was a sold out show. As it should be.

I brought my daughter-in-law Hannah and my three-year-old granddaughter Hazel. This review is what it says in the title–A Christmas Ballet through the eyes of a little girl.

The Nutcracker ballet is a standard at Christmas. The story, for Hazel, was superfluous. What she saw bedazzled her. So this review is about the dazzling, shining, magical experience we had on Saturday afternoon.

The lobby of the Covey Center for the Arts is filled with hundreds of nutcrackers for purchase–all sizes, all colors, all gorgeous. Get your camera ready, as there is a darling set where you can photograph your loved ones.

The first thing Hazel saw was the orchestra in the pit of the theater. As she was gazing at all the members of the orchestra, they smiled back. The triangle player played for Hazel, and then banged his tambourine. Hannah said to an orchestra member, “I’m sorry if we’re bothering you.” The woman replied, “We LOVE this!” I am always impressed when a performance is accompanied with a live orchestra. But I’m thrilled when they are so enthusiastic about a three-year-old’s budding interest in the arts. Associate Director Marcel Bowman brings us note by note a beautiful experience. Live orchestras give life to any production, and this is no exception. It is warmly electric.

The Nutcracker is a magical story where toys become larger than life. Yes, Hazel, those toys and candies and characters are real! And they all wear magnificent costumes thanks to Scenic/Costume Designer Cassandra Barney, and dance as if they’re flying, thanks to the gorgeous choreography by Jaqueline P. Colledge. Young and pretty Clara is taken into a fairyland and is introduced to magical characters. I appreciated the amazing dancers for their talent–such poise and power. But Hazel just took it all in, sitting quietly, eyes wide, through both acts.

The standard and the quality of this production is unsurpassed. The women are floating and beautiful and poised and powerful. The men are athletic, dynamic, passionate, and over the top incredible. I felt the power in the theater, and it took my breath away. The audience enthusiastically applauded throughout each dance. The principal performers are: Amy Cook, Sugar Plum Fairy; Matteo Garattoni, Cavalier; Hallie Jo Johnson, Sugar Plum Fairy; Stephen Kessler, Cavalier; Sylvie Squires, Sugar Plum Fairy (American Ballet Theatre); Vince Pelegrin, Cavalier (ABT Studio Company); Eric Ascione, Drosselmeyer; Sebastian Vinet, guest principal artist.

When we asked Hazel what her favorite part of The Nutcracker was, she said Madam Ginger. All those little kids coming out from Madam’s skirt! Even more fun for Hazel was meeting two of those ballerinas after the show, when they were out of costume. Hazel asked if they liked being ballerinas. Both girls bobbed their curly pigtails and said, “Yes!”

To be honest, we asked to have our seats on the aisle because I thought we’d be having to tag team, taking Hazel in and out of the theater. It is to the credit of the beauty and precision she saw onstage that kept her three-year-old attention completely engaged. After the ballet ended, Hazel said, “It’s over? Can I watch it again?”

As we walked out of the theater, I was filled with a mixture of happiness, peace, excitement, and gratitude. What a beautiful production. What a wonderful experience we shared with the sold out audience, witnessing this magical moment together. What an exceptional event for Hazel and Hannah and me.

Hazel waiting for the ballet to start

Utah Metropolitan Ballet Presents The Nutcracker; Story by Alexandre Dumas, based on the book by E.T.A. Hoffman, music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
The Covey Center for the Arts, 425 W Center St, Provo, UT 84601
Dec 14-20, 2023, dates and times vary.
Utah Metropolitan Ballet Facebook Page
The Nutcracker Promo Video

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