Review: Re-imagined 'Nutcracker' Makes a Splendid Return

by Will Demers

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday December 20, 2021

A promotional photo for "The Nutcracker" by Providence's Festival Ballet
A promotional photo for "The Nutcracker" by Providence's Festival Ballet  

Many things can be said about "The Nutcracker" with regards to its iconic visuals, costumes, and set pieces. The magical Christmas Eve party when guests arrive is one of the most anticipated openings of the fabulous ballet, as is the moment when Herr Drosselmeyer (David DuBois) reveals a beautiful Nutcracker doll for his niece Clara (Charlotte Seymour) and presents it to her before all of the attendees of the Silberhaus party. 

Festival Ballet Providence has been producing this classic for many years at the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC), but returns this year to its sister venue, Veterans Memorial Auditorium, with spectacular results. A smaller, yet recently remodeled, venue, the Vets is a perfect place to debut this Holiday classic. As Drosselmeyer creates his iconic doll, which is the centerpiece of the event ballet, it's a small moment but easily creates the anticipation of an adventure to unfold. 

From the first strains of Tchaikovksy's score, this is an event to behold. In their bold reimagining, the Festival Ballet brings updates that perhaps aren't completely necessary but are most welcome. Yury Yanowsky, who helms the ballet as choreographer and as the Artistic Curator of Festival Ballet Providence, brings his array of knowledge and talent to this fresh and festive production. Peter Horne's set and costume design cannot be understated here; their bright and colorful touches must be witnessed, and the costumes perfectly complement the artistry of each backdrop.

Whether it's the imaginative lighting by Brandon Stirling Baker or the fake snow tumbling down from the rafters, this is a detailed, inspired show that's breathtaking to witness. The Christmas tree now grows to thirty feet tall, and Providence's iconic Big Nazo Labs have designed the Nutcracker mask worn by Kobe Atwood Courtney, who embodies the title character with grace and incredible style. Speaking of style and grace, the talented Festival Ballet Company is absolutely splendid, with many local children joining the cast, making this production an absolute delight for everyone. 

In bringing the "Nutcracker" back, Festival Ballet Director Kathleen Breen Combes highlights exactly why the arts are so needed in our society. With so much talent to behold, it's a grand reimagining as well as relaunch in equal measure. 

"The Nutcracker" is produced by Festival Ballet Providence and runs through December 26th at Veterans Memorial Auditorium, One Avenue of the Arts, Providence, RI 02903. Patrons must present either proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test before entry. Masks are required for all patrons while in the venue. For information or tickets, call 401-421-ARTS or visit https://www.thevetsri.com/events/detail/the-nutcracker-21