First one of my series “Going Out on a Friday” is one that might be over for this season but it is never too early to plan for next year. The first play, I think I could call it a play, is The Nutcracker. I love it so much. It is the ultimate symbol of Christmas for me.I think I mentioned it here before, I do not celebrate Christmas. Have not celebrated it in over ten years now, and I cannot really say I miss it. However I do have traditions connected to the Christmas time, like going to see The Nutcracker.
I believe that they put a production of The Nutcracker in nearly every big city that has a ballet company.
The Prague one this year was somewhat controversial, because after ten years of having the same production they changed it. And the change was drastic. The old version had the story based on the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, with amazing old-fashioned scenography. The whole stage looked like good old English countryside. I, personally, loved the old version. Every single year when it came to Christmas time I got super excited that I will get to see it, I think I was like ten years old when I saw the old version for the first time. The truth is that it was like my third Nutcracker production that I saw, but it definitely is my favorite.
So this year they came up with a completely different story, one that I am a bit confused by. Ok, I am majorly confused. They set it in Prague, I guess there is nothing wrong with that. The setting is that it is the evening of 5th December, which is the evening of the celebration of St. Nicolas. You might be like what the hell is that, well let me tell you my darlings. This particular evening, adults dress as St. Nicolas, old guy with a long white beard and a weird stick, kinda looks like more Slavic version of Santa Claus to be honest, Angel and Devil. The idea is that groups of people dressed up walk around the city asking kids if they were naughty or nice, the kids have to tell them a little poem, or sing a song and for that they get a treat, if they were naughty they get coal or potatoes. I tell kids that if they get coal and potatoes all they need is matches and they can make themselves a nice dinner.
So the new Prague version has a story that no foreigner will ever get, which I guess might be fine, except the fact that ballet productions are shows that are hugely visited by people who are on vacation in Prague, particularly because you do not have to speak Czech to understand the story, and most visitors to Prague want to see the inside of the National Theatre. This production will lead to huge confusion. Honestly I was confused, and I am Czech, thus I should be able to understand the costumes, I did not. After the opening scene with St. Nicolas, the Angled and the Devil, I honestly do not really know what was happening.
The best thing about the show I saw was the kid sitting behind us. His comments are simply legendary. At one point there was a huge eye projected on the stage, do not know why it was there, but this kid aged like four asked in a very serious tone “Is that an eye?” then followed with “Is it real?” and then totally crushed it with “Wait is it my eye?” Believe me this kid made it enjoyable.
As someone who loves ballet, because it is something I will never be able to do, and all the people on the stage look magnificent, this show actually lacked dancing for me. You know those shows like “Disney on Ice”, shows done to entertain kids, show a couple of tricks but not really much happens? That is how I felt about this new production. There was just not enough dancing for me. The safe thing about it was that the music stays the same. So I managed to enjoy it even though it was not what I was expecting, I will see whether I will go next year, but I recommend everyone to see The Nutcracker at least once. It is such a magical Christmas time tradition that all the ballet companies in the world put out a Nutcracker production that it is shame not to see it.
My life dream is to get to see The Nutcracker in the Central Park in New York, and I promise it will happen one day. Till then I guess I have to be satisfied with our local production
So have any of you seen the Nutcracker? Did you like it?
(Pictures downloaded from the official site of the National Theatre in Prague)
That is it for now peeps, see you next time.