Ever since Michael Pink, the Artistic Director of the Milwaukee Ballet, arrived on the scene in 2002, I have been watching his version of The Nutcracker, which has been my family's well-loved holiday tradition, as it is for so many families in the area. Perhaps you've never been? Perhaps you feel that the ballet isn't "your thing?" I beg you to reconsider. When the lights go down, and the Milwaukee Ballet orchestra begins the opening notes of Tchaikovsky's famous music, you will be enchanted.
Based on E.T.A. Hoffman's 1816 Novella, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, the ballet (possibly the world's best known) was written in 1892 by the famous Russian composer, Tchaikovsky, and two choreographers, Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, who used the version of the story by Alexandre Dumas, the well known French novelist, as their inspiration. Interestingly, the ballet was not an instant success, and took many years to be performed outside of Russia. By the 1950's, it became popular in the US, and now it is performed by nearly every ballet company, usually during the holiday season, around the world.
The Milwaukee Ballet has four different casts to accomodate the schedule, which means every performance is a bit different. While full of holiday magic and gorgeous costumes and scenery, Michael Pink's Nutcracker is hardly austere; in fact, keep your eye out for the three clowns, whose changing antics are one of the highlights of the performance. This Nutcracker is an introduction to the ballet that the whole family will enjoy.
New this year is a special Sensory-Friendly Performance on Wednesday, December 21st at 6:00 p.m. In partnership with Autism Speaks and the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, this performance is designed for children and adults with ASD and other sensitivity issues or special needs. Recorded music will be softer, house lights will remain on and there will be a designated Quiet Zone where patrons can go if they need to take a break from the performance. Come early and meet the characters from The Nutcracker in the lobby. Call the Marcus Center at 414-273-7121 ext. 213 for tickets. You can also purchase online at marcuscenter.org/mcaccess using the group code AUTISMSPEAKS.
The Nutcracker runs through December 27th at the Marcus Center for Performing Arts in Milwaukee. Tickets can be purchased at the Milwaukee Ballet Box Office, located at 504 W. National Ave., or by calling (414) 902-2103. Tickets can also be purchased at the Marcus Center Box Office, located at 929 N. Water St., or by calling (414) 273-7206, or online at ticketmaster.com.