New York has no shortage of nuts. No. Not the ubiquitous street vendors who sell warm peanuts, cashews, and almonds. (Although they certainly are a delicious treat!) I’m referring to the number of productions of the 1892 ballet The Nutcracker. Since the 1960s, countless ballet companies have staged the beloved story which offers a glorious score by Peter Tchaikovsky.
This year alone, the tri-state area has mounted at least fifteen different Nutcrackers. You’ll have to travel to West Coast, however, to find the best version. Today Goldstar , the popular e-commerce ticketing site announced that that Long Beach Ballet is named Best Loved Nutcracker in the U.S. for 2019. This marks a back-to-back win for the Southern California-based organization, who won the Award in 2018. This year, they competed along with more than 50 companies to win the 13th Annual Goldstar National Nutcracker Award, the only award honoring live performances of The Nutcracker nationwide.
What makes it such a stand-out? It boasts sparkling sets and costumes, a cast of more than 200, dazzling pyrotechnics and magic effects — along with a special appearance by Rebel, Long Beach Ballet’s gorgeous white Arabian horse. It is also one of only two ballet companies in the country that use two harps for their production, to ensure the performance sounds exactly as Tchaikovsky intended it to sound.
In a recent press release, Long Beach Ballet Artistic Director David Wilcox said, “It is an honor to have once again been recognized as the most beloved Nutcracker in the U.S.! We produce this show as a labor of love, with over 500 people behind the scenes and a 36-year track record. On behalf of the entire cast and crew, we send our sincere thanks to the nation!”
Jim McCarthy, CEO of Goldstar, expressed his enthusiasm. “We’d like to congratulate David and his company, cast and crew on this win,”he said. “The field was crowded with a wide variety of genres, styles and creative themes. From big beautiful classic ballets to very unusual, creative, modern telling and everything in between. In the end, the people voted Long Beach Ballet to be the best.”
As is tradition, the Long Beach Ballet will receive a cash prize to go towards education and accessibility programs, as well as the coveted title of Best Loved Nutcracker in the U.S. They will also be awarded “The Nutty” statuette. The winner of the Goldstar National Nutcracker Award is determined by audience ratings from people who attended 2019 Nutcracker productions through Goldstar. Performances for this production run through December 22 at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, Terrace Theatre.
In 2017, the Brooklyn based troupe Company XIV walked away with the prize for their radical reinterpretation called Nutcracker Rouge. With two consecutive wins for the west coast, New York has some fierce competition in 2020.