The publicity for the Richmond Ballet’s Nutcracker quotes the New York Times: “one of the country’s most perfect”.

I haven’t seen enough Nutcrackers to weigh in with any comparison, but I can safely say that Stoner Winslett and Charles Caldwell’s version accomplishes the seemingly impossible. Their Nutcracker looks very traditional, while simultaneously being thrillingly imaginative.

Every student of theater history should get to Virginia ASAP to experience first-hand how the most old-fashioned of theater technologies – simple wings and drops – can, in the right inventive hands, make stage magic to rival the most modern of high technologies. Credit designer Caldwell for this. The dance itself is a detailed, complex story, always creative, always coherent, always precise, always balanced, always surprising, always satisfying. Every dancer, from the youngest to the most experienced, contributes a disciplined and bold performance.

Principal dancers Maggie Small and Fernando Sabino deserve special acknowledgement for setting the performance bar so high.

Even Ron Mattson, leading the busy Virginia Symphony Orchestra, seems inspired by what is happening on stage. The large and diverse crowd at Chrysler Hall broke into genuine and enthusiastic applause throughout the performance. No one wanted this night to end.

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