Review: Nutmeg Ballet’s Magical Nutcracker at the Warner Theater

Nutmeg Ballet’s Magical Nutcracker at the Warner Theater on Friday, Dec. 6.
Nutmeg Ballet’s Magical Nutcracker at the Warner Theater on Friday, Dec. 6.
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The dazzling lights of the Warner Theatre marquee lit up downtown Torrington on Friday, Dec. 6 to match the extraordinary talent that shined on stage during the final dress rehearsal of The Nutmeg Ballet’s Nutcracker, the 50th Anniversary Celebration Year. The Warner Theatre is one of the great cathedrals to the performing arts, an art deco architectural triumph with its gold-leaf walls and ornate ceiling featuring the grand star-inspired center. When the audience crosses the threshold from the foyer into the theater, the ambiance stirs the soul. We are told without words that something truly special will be unveiled before us and indeed, the dancers exceed every expectation, building a story rich in wonder with glorious new costumes and set pieces befitting a golden jubilee year for the Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory.
On the night of the rehearsal, Ballet Master Tim Melady gathered the Nutmeg Dancers on stage and guests at the center of the seating area and then Victoria Mazzarelli, the Artistic Director of the Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory, welcomed one and all to the evening’s festivities. As a premier former student and gold medal award winner at the NY International Ballet Festival, there is no one who knows how a dancer feels before their performance more than she and Mazzarelli talked to her young charges, knowing how hard they all worked to hone their skills and master the techniques and artistry that they bring to the show.
A special moment during the evening occurred when Founder and Executive Director Sharon Dante awarded Torrington Downtown Partners Steven Tempkin the prestigious honor of the first key to Nutmeg Ballet. Joan Kunsch, the Associate Artistic Director of the Nutmeg, who earlier in the evening had been greeted enthusiastically from her students on stage, shared her greetings and best wishes for the event. Before the evening’s main attraction commenced, Mayor Elinor Carbone was invited to give a toast for the occasion and she recalled how new residents of the city had chosen their new home in some part due to fond memories of the Nutmeg’s Nutcracker at the Warner and that for her, this is how her season begins. The guests took their seats in anticipation of the performance.
The Nutcracker opens with a Christmas party and it is the clearest depiction on the stage of the embodiment of “Christmas joy” one could imagine. Every little detail on stage is a treasure to be cherished as if those moments presented to be opened just for you if you catch them. The youngest party guest has moments of impish delight with the Grandmother, two maids sneak a toast while the older partiers are occupied, and Thomas Evertz’s Dr. Drosselmeyer warms by the fireplace before disappearing into a Christmas package.
Some generations know Evertz as the definitive Dr. Drosselmeyer, a role he owns with assuredness and delight. Drosselmeyer is like a benevolent Loki, the instigator of the evening’s magical journey. To be clear, I know the Nutcracker, I have seen it performed including the Nutmeg’s Nutcracker and still, when Evertz dramatically raises his cape and then releases it, stepping it away to reveal the tall figure of the Nutcracker, I was surprised and awed.
The new costumes of the mice and the Mouse King are superb and the set design by Roger LaVoie is awe-inspiring and a wonder to behold. When snow falls during a full moon evening during the “Land of Snow” scene, we are transported magically to where the dream of a Snow Queen and fairies takes physical form.
The Nutmeg Ballet’s Nutcracker is a professional production in every sense of the word and every moment on stage is like a living, breathing painting come to life, a poetic vision that is not to be missed especially during 50th anniversary year of the Conservatory. The beauty and pageantry of The Nutmeg Ballet’s Nutcracker was a feast for the eyes and the imagination.

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Joseph Timothy Quirk is the creator and producer of Nutmeg Junction radio program which airs on 13 stations. He is a cartoonist who comics has appeared in four newspapers throughout 2009-2017 and has been a freelance entertainment journalist.