Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Benicia's "Nutcracker" ballet celebrates 25-year tradition

(Originally published in the 12/1/15 edition)

   Benicia Ballet Theatre will hit another milestone this weekend. Saturday will mark the 25th year that the organization has brought the beloved holiday classic “The Nutcracker” to Solano County.
   “The Nutcracker,” based on the 1816 short story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” was first adapted into a ballet by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov by 1892 with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The production tells the story of a young girl named Clara who receives a nutcracker for Christmas. She is soon whisked away into a magical world where she meets the Nutcracker Prince and where toy soldiers square off against the Mouse King and his army.
   The production was not initially a success, but since the mid-20th century it has been performed countless times around the holiday season. Benicia Ballet Theatre has been putting it on since 1990, although there will be a change of venue this year to Fairfield’s Downtown Theatre.
   “We have been performing at Solano Community College for several years, and they have closed their theater due to renovation,” Publicity Coordinator Renee Albrecht said. “We chose Downtown Theatre because of their availability and because we needed to quickly book a place.”
   Additionally, the organization also needed to find a venue that had an orchestra pit and a stage large enough to fit such a large cast.
   “The question we get asked all the time is ‘Why is this not in Benicia?’” Albrecht said. “The answer is there’s nowhere in Benicia that is big enough to house this production.”
   The 25th anniversary production will feature over 120 symphony musicians and dancers, including a pair of Benicia High School seniors- sisters Isabelle and Sophia Briseno. Maestro Steve Thompson will lead the Symphony Orchestra of Northern California in performing Tchaikovsky’s enduring score.
   Additionally, there will be slight story changes. In past productions, Clara has been a young girl the whole time through. In this anniversary production, Clara will dream she’s an adult when meeting the Nutcracker Prince.
   “There’s now going to be an older and younger version of Clara and the Prince,” Albrecht said. 
   There will also be a Silver Anniversary Silent Auction between the two shows on Saturday. Tickets for the auction are separate from the main event.
   As with many holiday classics, “The Nutcracker" continues to be popular every December.
   “It symbolizes the holiday season for a lot of people,” Albrecht said. “And of course, the music is just fantastic.”
   “The Nutcracker” will be performed at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5 and at 2 p.m. on Dec. 6. All performances will take place at the Downtown Theatre, located on 1035 Texas St. in Fairfield. Seating is assigned, and tickets can be purchased from $15 to $24 at the box office or through DowntownTheatre.com. Additionally, there will be a silent auction in between the two Saturday shows from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Tickets for this event are $20 and can be purchased through BeniciaBallet.org.

   For more information, contact 746-6757 or at info@beniciaballet.org

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