It was the first real snow of the season, and it just perfectly set the mood for the first public performance of Neglia Ballet’s Nutcracker this past Saturday evening. In conjunction with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Shea’s Performing Arts Center, year four of this annual event was a sparkle covered whirlwind of giant presents, giant staircases, giant snow trees, giant cupcakes, and giant cotton candy. I am the Lighting Designer for Act 1 and the Associate Set Designer. My friend and colleague, Lynne, is the Set Designer and Lighting Designer for Act 2. The long hours, yet still truncated tech time, are worth every minute for the look on my niece’s face when the Christmas Tree grows to 24’0 high onstage or when the battle scene in a Victorian ballroom has transformed into a land of Snow mountains and dancing snowflakes before her very eyes. It is a magical performance.
In addition to the two public performances, this year Neglia was able to sponsor a “children’s show” on Wednesday morning when almost 3000 Buffalo city school students were able to see Nutcracker, probably for the first time, on the grand Shea’s stage. A theatre full of wide eyed and imaginative young minds that react honestly and earnestly to every scene change and surprise is enough to put anyone in the Christmas spirit. Visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.