The Nutcracker dazzles children’s eyes, but it also confirms their deep suspicion that toys come to life, even when no one is looking or poking them repeatedly with cattle prods. Feel the season’s electricity with this GrouponLive deal to see Manassas Ballet Theatre presents The Nutcracker at Merchant Hall at Hylton Performing Arts Center. For $49, you get two tickets for general admission to the orchestra section (up to a $119.50 value, including all fees). Choose from the following shows:
- Friday, December 14, at 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday, December 15, at 3 p.m.
- Saturday, December 22, at 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday, December 23, at 3 p.m.
Doors open 30 minutes before each showtime. Friday’s opening-night performance also includes a special Salute to the Military, featuring the orchestra's performance of the national anthem as well as service anthems in honor of WWII veteran John Gregory and other veterans. WWII veterans and active-duty and active-reserve personnel with ID receive complimentary tickets; their guests receive 20% off.
Based on a novel by the 19th-century romantic fabulist E. T. A. Hoffmann, The Nutcracker weaves a magical tale of holiday adventure. Clara, the story's heroine, receives a nutcracker from her godfather, a wizardly toymaker named Drosselmeyer. Sneaking downstairs to see the toy after everyone else has gone to bed, Clara suddenly finds herself caught in the middle of a pitched battle between the toys and an army of mice. After saving the nutcracker with a well-thrown shoe to the Mouse King's head, Clara and her now-living prince venture into the Land of Snow and the Land of Sweets to celebrate amid the dances of nimble snowflakes and the regal Sugar Plum Fairy.
Tchaikovsky’s score features some of the most recognizable tunes in music, repurposed beyond the ballet world in works including Disney's Fantasia, which naturally chose to illustrate the music’s delicate beauty with dancing mushrooms and leaping radishes. Notable sections include the Waltz of the Snowflakes, which floats weightlessly above the angelic voices of a youth choir, and the second act's medley of exotic national dances, including a Spanish bolero and Russian Trepak. The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy's music-box-like theme springs from a celesta, a new instrument Tchaikovsky came across in Paris and hurriedly inserted into the score before his musical rivals could make use of its haunting, bell-like sound. Each of these movements come to fruition via the Manassas Ballet Theatre Orchestra's live, 45-piece ensemble, whose soaring strings, strident brass, and fluttering woodwinds fill the theater with acoustic warmth.
Hylton Performing Arts Center
When visitors enter the two-story lobby of the Hylton Performing Arts Center, their eyes dart from the purple carpeting to the stately pillars—all accented by light streaming in from the windowed exterior. Inside the 85,000-square-foot events center, ballet performances unfold in the dramatically modern hall, toes tap along with cabaret shows in the intimate theater space, and exhibits by local artists and dexterous stagehands open windows to other worlds in the 2nd-floor art gallery.
Manassas Ballet Theatre
Manassas Ballet Theatre's 25 full-time dancers (10 of which are male) comprise the resident ballet company of the Hylton Performing Arts Center. For its shows, the theatre utilizes live music, usually orchestra, to underscore the dancing on stage. It all combines into an experience that has delighted both The Washington Post and readers of Virginia Living, among others. The Manassas Ballet Theatre also boasts an international cast of professional dancers.