It’s a Christmas miracle! Richmond Ballet has a new swan sleigh AND has slightly shortened that kinda draggy second act of their holiday classic.
The snow falls. The Victorian kids trot across the stage. The Christmas tree grows! The mice emerge! The Rat King bites the dust!! The Snow Queen!!!! THE SNOW QUEEN!!
Then there’s intermission, and your kids are pumped for the second act, which involves the Russian bear, Mother Ginger, the Chinese dragon, the Adorable Tiny Black Sheep, and a whole lot of fun stuff. However, it’s getting late, they’re getting tired, and the fun stuff somehow seems to go on forever.
Here’s a problem: The parts that tend to be boring to kids (the Sugar Plum Fairy’s pas de deux and the Waltz of the Flowers) are both stacked at the end of Act 2, right when parents are starting to realize they might have to make an early exit before their overtired offspring explode in a shower of tears and ribbons.
Here’s the other problem: Those parts are really effing beautiful for ballet fans.
What to do?
Richmond Ballet has heard your pleas (and, literally, they have heard the pleas of your whimpering children each year), so they’ve done some maybe genius alterations that don’t just reduce the actual running time of Act 2 but inject a little more liveliness into the pace.
1. There’s a new scene, which brings a little more interest to the angels (those heavenly beings that until this year just shuffled around and blew horns). New costumes make it seem like they’re floating, and they help set the stage for the arrival of Clara and her Prince on the…
2. New swan sleigh!! Dubbed “Clarice,” the beauteous new sleigh, designed by Charles Caldwell, arrived last week!
3. The Sugar Plum Fairy still arrives in a little glow of light, but she’s surrounded by her very own entourage, little SPF attendants! She’ll do her variation to her famous theme then instead of during her pas de deux later.
4. Sadly, her Cavalier won’t get to do his at all. Pas de deux still exists, but it’ll be shorter and not mire down the action so much with such a long running time.
5. Both Mother Ginger and the Waltz of the Flowers have some measures of music removed, and we have it on good authority that it’s really unnoticeable unless you’ve seen the dang thing 400 times and cling desperately to each note. Guilty!
So, congrats, angels! Bummer for you, SPF Cavalier, and welcome to the world, Clarice!
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The Nutcracker opens runs through December 23rd at the Carpenter Theatre (600 E. Grace Street). Buy tickets online or call 804.344.0906.