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BTO’s ‘Nutcracker’ returning to Akron Civic Theatre

11/14/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Roger Durbin

Ballet Theatre of Ohio will stage “Nutcracker” Nov. 30 through Dec. 8 at the Akron Civic Theatre.
Photo courtesy of Ballet Theatre of Ohio
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Under Christine Meneer, artistic director of Ballet Theatre of Ohio (BTO), the annual and much loved “Nutcracker” that she began more than 20 years ago has been an ongoing creation.

If you haven’t seen it in a few years, you’re likely to see a lot of different and newly done exciting production elements when the story-length ballet is performed Nov. 30 through Dec. 8 at the Akron Civic Theatre.

Over the years, many things have changed or been added — costumes (last year Meneer displayed many as a kind of history of the development of “Nutcracker” clothes over the years), props (like the addition of giant toys one year), scenery (such as a growing and gigantic Christmas tree some years back), and the like. There are some changes being made for this year, as well.

According to Meneer, a new set is coming for Act II. This year, it will be a “version of the famed Rialto Bridge” from Venice, Italy.

“It’s strikingly beautiful,” she said.

And no doubt it is very romantic in inspiration for the fairyland journey of the lead character.

Last year, for its 20th annual presentation, Meneer created a one-night-only event, called “The Nutty Nutcracker.” It was a spoof on the basic and familiar storyline that audiences know and regularly go to see.

According to Meneer, it went over extremely well. She said she asked from the stage if the audience enjoyed it, and got such a great response that she is going to repeat it again this year. “The Nutty Nutcracker” will take place Dec. 6 at 7 p.m.

There are “lots of jokes” in that version, she said. Without giving too much away, Meneer offered a few tidbits. In one scene of the fight with the mice, the dancers were dressed as rival Pittsburgh Steelers/Cleveland Browns players. In the party scene that opens up the ballet, the maid brings in a turkey for Christmas dinner that comes to life and begins dancing. Later, the Sugar Plum Fairy is to dance with the Cavalier, but in this version, she’s the “Sugar Plump Fairy,” and the Cavalier can’t get her off the ground.

All that aside, there’s still the spectacle of BTO’s “Nutcracker.” The traditional version will still be performed. Audience members can take them both in and really gear up nostalgically for the holiday season.

The traditional “Nutcracker” is awash in lush music, solid character acting and dramatic, theatrical dance, all things that Meneer does exceedingly well. The ballet is meant to charm, and it does.

The “Nutcracker” will be performed Nov. 30 and Dec. 7 at 2 and 7 p.m. and Dec. 1 and 8 at 2 p.m.

“The Nutty Nutcracker” will take place Dec. 6 at 7 p.m.

Tickets range in price from $22 to $46 and are available at the Civic Theatre Box Office or by calling 330-253-2488 or through the BTO at www.ballettheatreohio.org or by calling 330-688-6065.


Roger Durbin is professor emeritus of bibliography at The University of Akron and board director of the Dance Critics Association. To contact him, email r.durbin@sbcglobal.net.

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