What an audacious title! As if you need tips for enjoying Nutcracker at Pacific Northwest Ballet. As if I am qualified to give them! But, I have been a few times, so indulge me if you will … read on.
Who to especially notice in this year’s Nutcracker at PNB: Makena Lung played the most animated and graceful Princess Pirlipat in the opening vignette that I have ever seen — watch closely and you will be delighted. Lindsi Dec as Clara and William Lin-Yee as the Prince had fabulous facial expressions that added a whimsical flare. And Timothy Lynch, in the role of Herr Drosselmeier disguised as the Sultan, was wonderfully animated. That said, there are several casts for this production — and they all tend to be amazing. In the photo below, Lesley Rausch is dancing the role of the Peacock, Lindsi Dec is dancing as Flora in the Waltz of the Flowers, and Kaori Nakamura and Jonathan Porretta are dancing as Clara and the Prince.
What to do if you’ve seen Nutcracker before: Sit someplace new to get a different perspective! The Maurice Sendak sets are so detailed that you could look at them for weeks and still find hidden characters. Focus on a different character or set of dancers to discover stories within the story. (Today I saw Clara being drawn to the Sultan in Act Two in a way I had never seen before — along with the jealous reactions of her prince!) Listen to the music with fresh ears and observe how perfectly the choreography matches the mood it creates. There are so many layers to this production that it remains interesting, even after many viewings.
What to do about traffic around Seattle Center: The day I went to Nutcracker this year was the day of the Seattle Marathon. With streets blocked off in all directions, it was important to leave home (20 minutes north of Seattle) by 11:45 a.m. for the 1 p.m. matinee, but my friend and I didn’t leave until noon. So, instead of braving Mercer and the mess, which included 5th Avenue being closed, we took the 85th Street exit and headed over to Hwy. 99. From there we drove south and got off on Aloha. We found FREE street parking immediately and walked to McCaw. Easy peasy!
What to do if you are hungry: Prelude, the restaurant inside McCaw Hall, opens two hours prior to each performance. It offers a variety of healthy food and desserts. You can make reservations by calling 206.615.0404 or visiting SavorSmgMcCawHall.com. Prelude also makes it convenient to eat at intermission because you can pre-order and your snack or meal is ready for you.
What to do if you have a restless child sitting near you: This production is all about the kids. Relax and remember what it was like when you were that age! There are many young children who come to Nutcracker with their families. It is a great introduction to ballet for them. Observe their joy, appreciate the frilly little girl dresses, smile at them and be glad they are there. And, if they are bothering you too much, try moving to a new seat (if there is an unoccupied one nearby).
What to do if you bring a child: Bring your patience and your sense of humor too. Keep in mind that your child will probably sound much louder to you than to anyone else as they wiggle around, and see it as an opportunity to spread childlike joy to the world. Be sure to sit close enough to see well, pick up a seat booster in the lobby before going to your seats, bring something for the child to hold or play with quietly in the dark (nothing electronic) during the show, and have snacks for intermission and just before going in. If people look grouchy, just smile and apologize as needed.
What to do if you don’t want to dress up: Just go as you are — but at least try to wear your nice jeans. People come in all sorts of outfits, so it’s okay not to get fancy. It’s Seattle, after all.
What to do if you’re on a budget: Get a group together so you can get a discount on tickets. (Go to PNB.org/Season/GroupTickets or contact Julie Jamieson at 206.441.2416 or [email protected]) If you have a teen, make sure he or she is a member of Teentix and take them to the Friday, December 27, 5:30 performance (tickets available first come, first served on day of show).
What to bring: A camera to take photos of the lobby and yourself in it, two 1-dollar bills for coffee at intermission, opera glasses to see the stage close up, money to shop for Nutcracker ornaments in the gift shop, and a sweet tooth to enjoy a ballerina cupcake.
Nutcracker runs through December 29. Tickets range from $25 – $140 ($22 – $130 for children 12 and under). McCaw Hall is located at 301 Mercer Street in Seattle. For more information on Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker, visit pnb.org.
All photos by Angela Sterling.
Disclosure: Elizabeth’s tickets for this year’s Nutcracker were courtesy of PNB.