Thursday, December 5, 2013

Musings on the Nutcracker

I have been in super Christmas mode lately.  I have wanted to focus on all things Christmas; music, gift buying and wrapping, movies.  Last night I fell asleep while watching White Christmas; today I am starting my day watching the Nutcracker as I do housework.  Thank goodness for Netflix.

This particular version of the Nutcracker, my personal favorite version, was filmed in 1986.  I can remember, back in the days before cable had made its way to our rural area, this would be aired on our grainy PBS channel, and I would sit in rapt attention watching it.  I have adored it ever since.  However, now that I am an adult, and can watch it on a tv with a crystal clear picture and sound, I am noticing things I never realized before.  First off the costume and production designer was Maurice Sendak.  No wonder I was so fascinated with it.  His artwork papered my childhood.  As I watch it now, I see familiarity in the lines and curves.  And it adore it all the more.  Secondly, the adult Clara narrating the beginning of the story is the voice of Julie Harris.  A prolific stage and screen actress, Harris just passed away this summer.

I am impressed with how well the production has held up; nearly 30 years later it still looks fresh and crisp.  Sure, some of that is probably due to digital remastering, but a lot of it is due to the timeless way it was staged.  In no way does this look like it is from the 80's.  It really is timeless.

Photo courtesy of  Judy van der Velden

Several years ago, I fulfilled a lifelong wish and saw a live production of The Nutcracker in Pittsburgh.  We sprung for first row seats (totally worth it), and I admit, I got a little teary eyed.  While I was never the kind of girl who dreamed of being a ballerina, I was the kind of girl who fell in love with the music of The Nutcracker, and watching it come alive was something I will never forget.  For me, as with most people, the Nutcracker is a holiday staple.