Haglund got a late start on the Nutcracker Season this year what with all the packing and unpacking in connection with moving the blog’s executive offices westward into Hell’s Kitchen's final frontier neighborhood. The new industrial setting feels homey already, but we’ll miss 9th Avenue and all its sewer and water main construction which, by the way, is scheduled to continue through October of 2017.
Digging mud and fresh asphalt out of the shoe treads became a daily constitutional that brought the block residents a little closer and gave everyone something to do while hanging out on the corner waiting for the next Peter Pan Bus to get stuck when the driver tried to force his way past the workmen to make a right turn onto a street one-third it’s normal width. Those drivers will never grow up and learn that if there’s one group of city workers you don’t mess with, it’s the sewer guys.
Moving was such an expensive ordeal. It cost thousands of dollars just for the bubble wrap needed to pack all of Haglund’s fragile baubles of sarcasm and precision tools of irony. Then there were the custom-made boxes for all the wigs and masks, but, enough complaining - Sunday afternoon’s Nutcracker at NYCB was a superb start to the Nutcracker Season.
Ashley Bouder, Antonio Carmena, Ana Sophia Scheller, and Andre Kramarevsky led the festive cast that included praise-worthy performances by Lleyton Ho as The Nutcracker/Little Prince and Clare Hanson Simon as Marie/The Little Princess.
Kristen Segin and Sarah Villwock as Harlequin and Columbine conveyed the charm of their wooden toy characters with flexed feet and precisely angled arms. There was a tense moment at the end when Drosselmeier ushered the toys back to their boxes. The door to Columbine’s gift box got stuck shut. After several frantic tugs, a little speech balloon appeared above her head with “#!$@*!!” until finally Dr. Stahlbaum, the perfectly Victorian mannered Sean Suozzi, came to the rescue and ushered Columbine around to the back entrance of the gift box. Now everyone knows for sure that there are backdoors to the gift boxes.
The Snowflakes were in fine form although there was one major lapse of musical attention by a flake who, unfortunately, was in the front row at the time.
The lovelies Lauren King and Ashley Laracey as the demi soloist Flowers blossomed with elegance. At one point, Haglund thought that Lauren disappeared from the Flowers onstage leaving Ashley standing there with a little speech bubble over her head “Am I going to have to do this by myself?” Fortunately, everyone’s petals found their places and the Waltz of the Flowers continued without a hitch.
Ana Sophia Scheller was a glistening Dewdrop with calm arabesque balances and space-devouring sautes de chat. Ashley Bouder’s Sugarplum Fairy was a nice mix of grandeur and crispness. Antonio Carmena’s partnering was on spot at every moment. But the most memorable performance yesterday was that of Andre Kramarevsky’s masterful Drosselmeier whose arms waved the magic and spun the story before our eyes. Grandfatherly with a touch of mad scientist, Kramarevsky's Drosselmeier earned the awe of the children and the wary looks from the adults. His highly theatrical performance of Drosselmeier has always been the one to try to match, but few have ever come close.