“The Nutcracker” is one of my all-time favorite performances to see live. It never fails to put me in the Christmas spirit. Growing up, my parents took me to see musicals, plays, and concerts often. As a kid, I performed in an annual Christmas production at our church for years. And I have fond memories of going to see “The Nutcracker” in Boston with my dad when I was in college.
Sadly, my husband does not share my love of musical theater. I made him go to “The Nutcracker” with me when I was pregnant with our first child and I think he fell asleep during the first act. Even so, I was determined to share this experience with my children. So last year, when I felt they were old enough, we went.
As you know, I have 2 small boys. So you can see how the ballet might be a hard sell. Classical music, sitting quietly, girls in tutus and toe shoes? And it’s true, of all the small, smartly dressed children gathered in the theatre lobby, boys were a distinct minority.
But here’s what you may have forgotten if you haven’t seen “The Nutcracker” in a while: it’s full of magic, sword-fighting, and acrobatics. There’s a naughty little brother who breaks toys, a giant Mouse King who is felled by a slipper, an army of toy soldiers, an undulating Chinese dragon, and Russian dancers doing backflips!
My boys were at the edge of their seats for most of it. So what if they got a little antsy during the dance of the Snowflakes and yawned during the waltz of the Flowers? At least they stayed awake! (Unlike SOME people… who weren’t invited this time around.) Also, I bribed them with candy.
Beforehand, I worried: would they hate it? Would this be a waste of money? Would I spend the whole time stressing about my kids’ behavior? Would I be so distracted I wouldn’t even enjoy the performance? Should I just bag the whole thing? But no, I decided I had to at least try. And I was glad I did.
This year, my older son opted out. So my 5yo and I joined my goddaughter and her mom. And I enjoyed the performance just as much as I ever have. Maybe this was the last year my younger son will want to go. But that’s OK. I tried. And maybe as he grows up, when he hears that distinctive music, visions of sugarplums – or sword-fights – will dance in his head, and he will think of me.
SONG O’ THE DAY: At the end of the show, the entire cast came back out on stage to this rocking version of “The Nutcracker Suite” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. In case you like some head-banging with your ballet.