Conductor - Craig Kier. Sugar Plum Fairy - Amy Fote, Nutcracker Prince - Jun Shuang Huang, Snow Queen - Katherine Precourt, Clara - Allison Miller, Dr. Drosselmeyer - Christopher Coomer.
Anne and I came down to Houston to spend a few days, so far the trip has been somewhat of a disappointment. We also looked into the classical music scene here and find it to be slim pickings. Only performances that are on during our stay is a Houston Symphony concert, for which I bought a ticket yesterday, and several performances of the Nutcracker by Houston Ballet.
Today we got back into town a bit before six and decided to see if we could get tickets for the evening Nutcracker show. We did. Turns out there are very few restaurants in the area, and those we saw were a bit too formal for our taste, so we stopped by a cinema cafe and ordered a sandwich.
The venue - Wortham Center - certainly is impressive. I was somewhat surprised to find out the Brown Theater had a capacity of only 2150 or so, it felt as cavernous as the Met. The building's architecture is on the grand side inside and out, commensurate with "everything is bigger in Texas."
I have seen this ballet a couple of times before and wasn't that impressed. Thus my expectations for the evening wasn't that high. I ended up enjoying it immensely.
First, the sets. They were quite ornate and elaborate. Even though the stage is huge, there are sets that filled up the space nicely, and there are enough people flying around to make things interesting. If I had not seen the Christmas tree transformation before I may be quite impressed with the growth scene.
The dancers put out an energetic and enjoyable performance. I can quibble a bit that the slow movements are not as poetic as they could be, but there is not a lot of poetry inherent in the Nutcracker. The athleticism of the male dancers is quite impressive. The group dances all painted very pleasant pictures.
The choreography felt very fresh to me. Perhaps they do the same thing year after year, but for me it is interesting and at times genuinely funny.
I usually don't pay a lot of attention to the costumes but find them quite enjoyable (if that is the right term). The colors are bright and Anne thought border on the gaudy side. My reaction was "well this is Houston.".
On our drive from Galveston to Houston I remarked to Anne that the classical scene in Houston is similar to that of Hong Kong, thus insulting both cities at the same time. I have to revise that statement and say I have not ever seen anything so good in Hong Kong. I will have a possibly firmer opinion after seeing the Houston Symphony on Tuesday.
The evening was "perfect" in yet another way: we parked right in front of the theater. Our small rental car (Nissan Cube) was just the right size for this tiny space. Since it was Sunday, we didn't have to pay a dime.
Today (Thursday 12/8) I found this review of the Ballet on line. The reviewer is absolutely in love with this production.