The Nutcracker

Rated 4.0

What show has the prettiest, most colorful costumes in town? And beautiful, luminous scenery, including a conifer forest in a snowstorm that’s almost as enchanting as the real thing? And features a live, 39-piece orchestra playing some of the greatest music ever written for the stage?

Hint: It’s got dancers—lots of limber, supple, utterly gorgeous ballet dancers, male and female, making moves that most of us can only dream of executing—and a whole platoon of cute local kids, who are clearly jazzed to be onstage before a large audience. It’s the Sacramento Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker, of course.

Because it’s an annual evergreen event, and because it’s familiar, and because it runs with the smooth efficiency of a well-oiled machine, it’s possible to take The Nutcracker for granted. But don’t lose sight of the superlatives. The Nutcracker really offers an experience that you can’t get locally the rest of the year: a full company of dancers and an orchestra of musicians performing together. The big-budget production values are possible because the show is a thriving, ongoing franchise. (Financially, the lovely scenery by Alan Vaës wouldn’t pencil out for a show that would only come around for a few seasons at most.)

So relax, shuck off as many preconceptions as you can and let The Nutcracker’s charms take you on a magical journey. You don’t have to be a kid, or have a kid, to enjoy it.