A Christmas Tradition



The Nutcracker at The Garde


On December 10, 2016 one of the best well known Christmas shows came to The Garde Arts Center in New London, Connecticut, The Nutcracker. The show was put on by the one and only Eastern Connecticut Ballet. There was much excitement in the theater as there were Christmas trees in the lobby among colored and white lights strewn around green firs. The was the Ballet Boutique which sold Christmas ornaments of nutcrackers and characters, flip flops, sequenced crowns, clocks, and snow globes. Even the Humphrey Bogart statue was wearing a Santa Claus hat.

Before the patrons came in the ushers were abuzz with activity as the prepped for their roles the day, as well as the bartenders getting food and drinks ready. The box office employees were wearing reindeer antlers to welcome the patrons in.  There was the set up for the future Garde Arts Shows of Wally Lamb’s “I’ll Take You There” on December 18th as well as Quinn Sullivan coming on December 16th.  Including a DVD ballet performances from The Stars of the American Ballet was being set up as patrons filled the box office lobby.

As soon as they were allowed inside the patrons rushed over to the Ballet Boutique awed at what they saw before them. Several little girls dressed in sparkly dresses wore the sparkly tiaras that were sold in pink, purple, and white. Others admired the small nutcrackers they had in the forms of Christmas ornaments among the ballerinas. Many of them ran to the Christmas trees to go take pictures in front of them to share. Several audience members were carrying in bouquets of flowers with lilies, daisies, and red and white roses for the dancers.

Yet, the one part of all the décor that brought the patrons in were the AD HOC Carolers. Eight people sang songs like Carol of the Bells and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. Many audience members joined in the singing of these treasured Christmas Carols. Then the doors opened with ushers guiding patrons to their seats. Inside the theater members of the orchestra were taking their seats as they prepped for the beginning of the show. With the balcony beginning to fill up, the carolers made their way inside the theater to entertain patrons. Encouraging the audience to sing along to Jingle Bells and Santa Claus is Coming to Town time flew by. Many of the children enjoyed singing Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer where they had cut out the words reindeer and nose and using hand signals with the orchestra joining in.

Before I knew it the lights had dimmed welcoming the conductor into the theater. As he started the curtain rose with the tale of The Nutcracker coming to life. Starting off with the classic telling of a Christmas Eve party where a little girl named Clara receives a special nutcracker from her magical uncle, Herr Drosselmeier. Sadly her enjoyment is quickly destroyed as her jealous brother Fritz breaks the nutcracker. Clara tends to the nutcracker as the night dies down, however she falls asleep to find herself on a magical journey to a far off land. There were laughs at the little mice that scurried across the stage and sighs of awe when the Christmas tree turned into a boat. In this rendition of The Nutcracker there was no mouse king, instead Clara won the heart of the Prince in a sea battle against a band of pirates.

Upon Clara’s arrival there was a dance with the Snow King and Snow Queen which was met with applause as the curtain fell for intermission. A little girl dressed as an angel to present them with flowers as the lights came back on. There were many patrons discussing the liveliness of the show that they were in awe of. Many more brought souvenirs from the Ballet Boutique to remember the special show they had seen. With the second act starting the orchestra started to play as the lights dimmed.

When the second act started there was applause as each different type of dancer representing parts of the world. Yet, the one that got the most laughs came from Mother Ginger as she made her grand entrance followed by the children coming out from her gigantic skirt. The magic of the flowers dancing with the Dew Drop Fairy that followed the Arabian and Spanish dancers brought everything to lfie. Then the grand finale dance with the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier. Many of the audience members cheered on as they watched in awe of her dancing. When the curtain call came there were many people standing and cheering for all of the dancers as they took their bow. Two little girls dressed as angels presented the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Dew Drop Fairy flowers.

When the show ended there were many patrons discussing the magic that they had witnessed. Many patrons who knew dancers waited patiently to give them their bouquets of flowers. Others visited the Ballet Boutique to give pick up one final souvenir before they left for home. Several wanted to take a final photo before the Christmas trees. With another fantastic and magical performance of The Nutcracker from The Eastern Connecticut Ballet in the books, it was one Christmas tradition that will continue to live on at The Garde Arts Center.

Photo courtesy of http://www.gardearts.org/nutcracker-study-guides/


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