When Zoey was four years old (and Eleanor only two!) we took her to see the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s version of the Nutcracker. That year was the final year that PNB performed the ballet with sets and costumes designed by the legendary Maurice Sendak (author of Where The Wild Things Are). The following year PNB introduced a new version of the Nutcracker (still with George Balanchine’s iconic choreography) featuring sets and costumes designed by Ian Falconer. Yes, the author and illustrator of the amazing Olivia books.
This year, Eleanor being now four years old and capable of sitting quietly through a ballet, my mom and I took her to see it just as we had with Zoey two years earlier. Eleanor was over the moon to have a fancy date alone with Mom and Grandma. Being a big Olivia fan, she couldn’t wait to see the sets.
I was a huge fan of the Sendak version but, I have to say, I loved the Falconer version even more. It felt more like a traditional version of the Nutcracker. The sets and costumes were just delightful. Olivia even made a surprise appearance in the audience! (Can you spot her in the photo below?). When Clara/Marie first enters the stage, she is wearing a dress of bold red and white stripes – Olivia’s trademark style. Likewise, the toy maker’s cape is lined with the same red and white stripes, and there were several other hidden nods to Olivia throughout the ballet.
Eleanor loved the whole evening. She sat up straight, paying rapt attention and clapping her little heart out, until about the last ten minutes when the late night, extra sugar and excitement started to catch up to her. Then she snuggled up into my mom’s lap to watch the end.
I am told that Baby and Day both thoroughly enjoyed the performance as well.