And that debate might lead to a choice between Pacific Northwest Ballet's "Nutcracker" and Everett Symphony's "Nutcracker," which features Olympic Ballet Theatre.
Though they may be a bit biased, musicians from the Everett Symphony sounded off about why they think Everett's production is worth staying home for. Seattle's is a wonderful show, they say, but Everett's is the best "Nutcracker" out there for the money.
"I also have been a couple times to the Pacific Northwest Ballet performance and it is beautiful," said Jo Hull, Everett's assistant concertmaster. "What we offer is still the family-friendly community feeling that when you are in the audience and watching, you're investing in your community and you are seeing your grandkids or your neighbors' kids dancing as mice."
Hull gave some other reasons for picking Everett over Seattle: The parking here is free, the price is reasonable (from $14 to $38) and Everett delivers an old-fashioned, traditional "Nutcracker."
"Ours is more of a 'gingerbread cookie,' 'Once upon a time,' show," Hull said. "Seattle's is more European, more of an 'Arabian Nights' performance."
Principal clarinet player Cindy Olsen called the local flavor of Everett's "Nutcracker" amazing.
"When we do get people who come for the first time, they are so surprised that we are in their backyard," Olsen said. "People need to check out what's going on here locally because it's high quality and phenomenal."
Olsen said the dancers are full of enthusiasm and everyone brings a real passion to the performance.
Associate concertmaster Patrice Weed Shearer is happy that Everett does the traditional "Nutcracker," with no added music or additional scenes but keeps to the way Tchaikovsky wrote it. Shearer's mother, who was a professional dancer, called Everett's show "top notch."
"And my mom was a perfectionist, so when my mom said it was good, it's good," Shearer said.
Principal emeritus and violin player Ned Carrick said Seattle has dozens of performances of "Nutcracker." Everett does only three and that's an advantage.
"We approach it with a vigor," he said.
And at the Everett Civic Auditorium, the orchestra is there on stage, and that adds a lot too, Carrick said.
"You see the players and the sound is different," he said. "It's much more authentic and superior."
Reporter Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Highlights of holiday stage and dance presentations in Snohomish, Island and Skagit counties include:
"A Christmas Carol: Scrooge & Marley": The people at New Everett Theatre are promising this Dickens classic to be a new, theatrically dazzling adaptation by playwright Israel Horrowitz. Dickens narrates the tale of Scrooge's journey from damned to redeemed and even occasionally steps into the story as various characters to add a bit of spice to this holiday delight. This is director Sarah Stillion's first production for New Everett Theatre. Stillion has directed with Driftwood Players, Cornish College of the Arts, Stone Soup Theatre, the Mae West Fest and several independent projects. "Christmas Carol" opens at 8 tonight with shows at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. Fridays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 9 at Everett Theatre, 2911 Colby Ave., Everett. 425-258-6766, www.everetttheatre.org.
"The Grand Christmas History of the Andy Landy Clan": This story, by Jules Tasca, focuses on the Andy Landy clan, who all manage to survive crashing planes, drowning nuns and flaky Hollywood wannabes. These oddball characters share their memories of these madcap adventures through those traditional annual holiday letters. Shows at 7 p.m. Dec. 2 and Dec. 9 and 8 p.m. Dec. 3 and Dec. 10 at Driftwood Players, 950 Main St., Edmonds. 425.774.9600, www.driftwoodplayers.com.
"Riffraff, A Christmas Musical": Silver Lake Theatre presents this story about riff-raff: a band of thieves who enjoy stealing. The upright citizens of Nazareth are particularly disgusted with them but these do-gooder citizens don't just stop with the riffraff -- they detest all people who fall short of their high moral standards. But the holiday lesson that comes to pass is that nobody is perfect, after all. Shows Dec. 8, 14, 15 and 16 at Hope Church at Silver Lake, 11329 23rd Drive SE, Everett. 425.337.4673, www.silverlaketheatre.org.
"This Child": This is a new work by Tim Rarick and based on his family history. The story opens during a 1929 Christmas pageant and unfolds around members of a local parish as the characters cope with a devastating crisis. Shows at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays Nov. 30 through Dec. 15 at Whidbey Center for the Arts, 565 Camano Ave., Langley. 360-221-8268, 800-638-7631 www.WICAonline.com.
"'Twas the Night": A youth musical adapted by Lani Brockman and Susan Bardsley with music and lyrics by Bardsley and performed by the Whidbey Children's Theatre. Shows at 7:30 p.m. today, Saturday, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 7 and 8; 2 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 2 and 9, Martha Murphy Mainstage, Porter Building, 222 Anthes Ave., Suite 102, Langley. 360-221-2282, www.whidbey.com/wct.
"The Nutcracker": Pacific West Performing Arts is presenting its third annual Nutcracker, which will have the usual sugar plums and mice but also features jazz, tap, hip hop and ballet performances by PacWest students, parents and staff. Pacific West Performing Arts is a recreational and pre-professional dance studio in Snohomish and it promises a truly local show with talented dancers. Shows at 2 and 6 p.m. Dec. 22 at Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave., Everett. Get tickets by visiting Pacific West Performing Arts, 204 Ave. C in Snohomish, at the door before the performance, call 360-563-2793, or visit www.pacificwestperformingarts.com.
"The Nutcracker": Olympic Ballet Theatre with the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra presents this holiday favorite with a full-length ballet that includes beautiful Snowflakes, the sparkling Sugarplum Fairy, a wonderful Mother Ginger with her little Buffoons, a Christmas Tree that grows before your eyes, and a Booming Cannon. Shows at 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 1, and 2 p.m. Dec. 2 at Northshore Performing Arts, 18125 92nd Ave., NE, Bothell. 800-992-TIXX, 425-408-7997, www.npacf.org.
Olympic Ballet Theatre is also performing "The Nutcracker" at 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 15 and 3 p.m. Dec. 16 at Edmonds Center for the Arts, 410 Fourth Ave. N., Edmonds. 425-275-9595. Olympic Ballet's "Nutcracker" also can be seen at 2 p.m. Dec. 22 at Byrnes Performing Arts Center, 18821 Crown Ridge Blvd., Arlington, 360-618-6321.
"The Snowman": Performed by Ballet Bellevue with the Ballet Bellevue Orchestra, the show is based on the story by Raymond Briggs about a little boy who builds a snowman and creates a magical night with his imagination. Shows at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 and 2 p.m. Dec. 9, Northshore Performing Arts Center, 18125 92nd Ave. NE, Bothell. 800-992-TIXX, www.npacf.org, www.ticketswest.com,
"The Nutcracker": This presentation of the storybook Nutcracker is scheduled to be performed by Everett Dance Theatre, Dec. 3-9 at Snohomish County PUD Auditorium, 2320 California St., Everett.
"The Nutcracker": Whidbey Island Dance Theatre presents this 15th season of "The Nutcracker" as a traditional telling of the story with imaginative choreography that takes audiences along with Clara and her dream-like romp. The production has more than 50 guest artists and young dancers and has a unique Act II set in an Enchanted Forest. Here, Clara meets the Faeries, Elves, Mermaids, even a Dragon. Shows at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7, 8, 14 and 15, and 2 p.m. Dec. 8, 9, 15 and 16 at South Whidbey High School Theatre, 5675 S. Maxwelton Road, Langley. 360-341-2221, www.whidbeyislanddancetheatre.org.
"The Nutcracker": Guest artist Christina Stockdale will be dancing the role of Clara in Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker. Stockdale was a semifinalist in 2004 and finalist in 2005 at the Youth America Grand Prix. She has been a principal dancer with the Swarthmore Ballet Theatre in Pennsylvania and the Manassas Ballet in Virginia. Miye Bishop, from Northwest Ballet, will alternate roles with Stockdale over the six performances. Three of those performances are in Skagit County at 2 p.m. Dec. 16 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14 and 15 at McIntyre Hall, 2501 E. College Way, Mount Vernon. 360-416-7727 866-624-6897, www.mcintyrehall.org.
Holiday offerings in Seattle include:
"Nutcracker": Pacific Northwest Ballet's version of "Nutcracker" has become a holiday staple for 24 years. Created by PNB founding artistic director Kent Stowell and children's author and illustrator Maurice Sendak ("Where The Wild Things Are"), PNB presents this unique blend of costumes, sets and choreography captivating audiences as they watch Clara's magical journey unfold. Various times starting tonight through Dec. 29 at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., Seattle 206-441-2424, www.pnb.org.
"A Christmas Carol": For its 32nd production of this Charles Dickens' classic, ACT Theatre is featuring David Pichette and Mark Chamberlin as they alternate in the role of Scrooge and introducing Analiese Guettinger in her debut role of Tiny Tim. The tale remains the same, however, with Ebenezer Scrooge, the bitter 19th century tightwad, who finally finds the Christmas spirit with the help of three ghostly visitors. Previews begin at 7 tonight with performances through Dec. 24 at ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., Seattle. 206-292-7676, www.acttheatre.org.
"Black Nativity: A Gospel Song Play": In its 10th year, Intiman's production of "Black Nativity" is a fixture during the holidays, featuring Pastor Patrinell Wright, the Rev. Samuel B. McKinney and an ensemble of singers, dancers and musicians. This "Gospel Song Play" by poet Langston Hughes celebrates faith as shown in song, story and dance. The first act of "Black Nativity" retells the Christmas story through the words of Hughes. In the second act, Intiman's theater becomes almost churchlike with gospel performances by the Total Experience Gospel Choir and the Black Nativity Choir, modern and traditional choreography performed by an ensemble of dancers, and an on-stage band. "Black Nativity" runs from Wednesday through Dec. 28 at Intiman Playhouse, 201 Mercer St., Seattle. 206-269-1900, www.intiman.org.
"Stuart McLean: A Vinyl Cafe Christmas": Stuart McLean is well known in Canada and now he's coming to Seattle to share his storytelling and showcase some talented Canadian musicians. McLean is host of the CBC radio show "The Vinyl Cafe," which provides an eclectic musical journey and stories about the constant up and downs of Dave, the owner of the world's smallest record store where the motto is "We May Not be Big, But We are Small." McLean performs at 8 p.m. Dec. 1 at The Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., Seattle. 206-467-5510, www.themoore.com.
"A(n improvised) Christmas Carol": So you are looking perhaps for a really different version of the Charles Dickens classic? Here's one presented by Unexpected Productions which takes Dickens and replays it based on suggestions given by the audience throughout the play. Showtimes are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 7 p.m. Sundays starting tonight and through Dec. 23 at the Market Theater in Pike Place Market, 1428 Post Alley, Seattle. For tickets, see www.ticketwindowonline.com or for more information, call 206-587-2414.
Town Hall Seattle: This holiday season's scedule is packed with lots of entertaining treats for the family. All performances are at Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., Seattle. For the entire calendar, go to www.townhallseattle.org or call 206-652-4255.
"The Nutcracker Ballet"
Everett Symphony Orchestra with Olympic Ballet Theatre: 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 8 and 2 p.m. Dec. 9, Everett Civic Auditorium, 2415 Colby Ave., Everett. $14 to $38, 425-258-1605, 1-800-266-8486, www.everettsymphony.org.
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