December 21, 2018 at 2:10 pm EDT | by Patrick Folliard
Tickets to current local productions ‘Cinderella,’ ‘Nutcracker’ make great last-minute gifts
Cinderella, gay news, holiday theater, Washington Blade

Awa Sal Secka as Cinderella. (Photo by Margot Schulman; courtesy Imagination Stage)

Through Jan. 6
Imagination Stage
4908 Auburn Ave., Bethesda

Gian Carlo Perez as Drosselmeyer in in ‘The Nutcracker.’ (Photo by Victoria Pickering; courtesy Washington Ballet)

‘The Nutcracker’
Through Dec. 28
The Washington Ballet at Warner Theatre
513 13th St., N.W.

‘Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas’
Through Jan. 6
Adventure Theatre MTC
Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Blvd.
Glen Echo, Md.

Scrambling for a last-minute gift? Theater tickets to current productions are always an easy sure winner. Here are a few recommendations.

At Imagination Stage in Bethesda, it’s “Cinderella,” but with a twist.

Yes, she’s the bullied stepdaughter who seeks solace in daydreams and woodland critters, but this Cinderella isn’t waiting to be saved from a life of drudgery by the first man of means who comes along.

In fact, long before stepping one sparkly shod foot into the palace, Cinderella encounters a sword-bearing man (the prince, unbeknownst to her) and handily disarms him using her broom. No retiring wallflower she. Also, she doesn’t accept the royal marriage proposal without seriously considering her own goals and dreams.

With a melodic score by Alyn Cardarelli and Steve Goers, “Cinderella” stars Awa Sal Secka in the title role. She’s a charming, strong presence with a gorgeous voice.

The cast boasts another fabulous voice — Tracy Lynn Olivera as a silver bird-turned-droll fairy godmother majestically clad in a shimmery gown adorned with plumage at the neckline.

All the other familiar fairytale faces are on hand: There’s Rat (Chris Stinson) who is coaxed into being transformed into human coachman Ratford when he’s assured that the palace staff will be passing cheese platters at the ball. With strategically placed padding, Evan Casey gives a nicely reserved performance as the icy Stepmother who’s really no crueler than your garden variety Vogue editrix. Understandably unhappy, she’s tasked with finding husbands for her clumsy and childish daughters, Cinderella’s stepsisters.

And of course, the story includes a kindly Prince Jason played Disney perfect by Jay Frisby. Not far from the prince is his mincing valet Wesley (Michael Wood), a servant with an interesting secret.

While scenic designer Paige Hathaway transforms the stage into a wintry wonderland of twinkling lights, director Kathryn Chase Bryer makes use of the large auditorium with madcap dashes. She also gets interactive by inviting audience members to try on the fabled glass slipper, prompting little girls (and a few little boys) to loudly implore “Me! Me!”

At 80 minutes with an intermission, Imagination Stage’s fun and fast moving “Cinderella” is recommended for ages 4 and up.

At historic Warner Theatre, The Washington Ballet is back with its thoroughly pleasing production “The Nutcracker.” Prior to a recent performance, artistic director Julie Kent took the stage to announce that this year marks the 15th anniversary of her predecessor Septime Webre’s very Washington take on the ballet holiday classic.

Set to Tchaikovsky’s magical score, the ballet takes place in a Georgetown mansion (handsomely designed by Peter Horne) on a snowy Christmas circa 1882.

Young Clara and her family are celebrating along with maiden aunts, young couples, lots of children and a kilted old gent. When the mysterious Mr. Drosselmeyer and his handsome young nephew arrive and present Clara with a magic nutcracker, the night takes a fantastic turn.

A wildly enchanting, beautifully danced dream ensues in a cherry blossom world inhabited by a life-sized George Washington nutcracker battling rats, fairies and cavaliers, frontiersman, Mother Barnum and her clowns, and an Anacostia brave and maiden.

The music is canned, regrettably. If only a patron with deep pockets had anted up the cash to hire an orchestra for the run. The superb dancers (and Tchaikovsky) deserve it.

At Glen Echo Park, Adventure Theatre MTC is presenting a fun holiday musical titled “Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas.” Based on Jane O’Connor’s same-titled picture book, it’s the story a young girl, Fancy Nancy (here played by Farrell Parker) who loves all things over-the-top: glittery lights, boas, fairy wings, etc. You get the picture.

In pursuit of making the holidays extra fancy, our wannabe posh heroine sells off some of her tatty finery in order to buy the most sparkly tree topper available.  But when things don’t quite work out, will Fancy Nancy learn the what constitutes a truly “splendiferous” Christmas?

While Adventure Theatre recommends the hour-long, intermission-less “Fancy Nancy” for all ages, I’d suggest leaving squalling infants behind. Your audience neighbors will thank you.

Happy holidays.

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