Erie Reader

Erie Contemporary Ballet Theater Presents ‘Erie’s Own’ Nutcracker

by Hannah McDonald November 21, 2018 at 10:45 AM

Saturday, Nov. 24 – 25

After the success of last year, the Erie Contemporary Ballet Theater sweetens up the east side as they return to Mercyhurst’s Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center for their fourth annual performance of The Nutcracker.

Though the venue and well-known tale of the Christmas season’s favorite ballet remain the same, audience members can still expect surprises. “Each year we change some of the choreography, we are constantly upgrading costumes, and we can use bigger backdrops and more props,” Sarah Purvis, artistic director of ECBT, said.

The holiday season provides a plethora of Nutcracker productions, but ECBT brings a family-oriented freshness with theirs. The original ballet, which tells the story of a Christmas Eve dream, sits at two-and-a-half hours. Potentially deterring children (and parents of small children), the creators of “Erie’s Own” Nutcracker removed repetitive measures, cutting down the runtime of the show while maintaining the suite’s beautiful scenes, beloved melodies and memorable characters.

“This allows children, and children at heart, to enjoy a family-oriented tradition together,” Purvis said of the change.

Families are a focus of the show on stage as well. “Every cast member involved has a family member that volunteers….This allows everyone to have a ‘stake’ and a responsibility to the production.” Purvis continued, “It truly is a ‘family’ production!”

The classic Russian ballet, most recognized by its Tchaikovsky musical score, becomes complete on the stage with breathtaking, handmade backdrops and costumes, sure to transport audience members into the magical world of Sugarplum Fairies.

With showtimes a month before Christmas day and eve, organizers expressed excitement for kicking off the holiday season soon after the Thanksgiving tables have been cleared. “It has always been a holiday tradition for family and friends to attend,” Purvis said. “[And] if I may be so bold, I think The Nutcracker is as much of a holiday tradition as watching A Christmas Story.” — Hannah McDonald

Saturday 7 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m. // 501 E. 38th St. // $17 to $40 //