Review: The Nutcracker at The Puppet Company

TheatreBloom rating:

Now entering its 26th year as a holiday tradition in Washington DC, The Puppet Company proudly presents Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker in all its resplendent Christmas glory in a fashion that can only be seen upon the magical stage at Glen Echo Park. Originally taking the stage in 1988 with the Arlington Symphony, the production is gloriously remounted with Director and Puppetmaster Christopher Piper at the helm. Spearheading a team of performers including Joshua Aaron Rosenblum, Matt Reckeweg, Rose Talbot, and Annette M. Wasno, Piper delivers a Christmas classic for the books. Stellar music, mesmerizing and marvelously magical puppetry and a story that sneaks its way into the heart for the holidays.

The Nutcracker at The Puppet CompanyThe Puppet Company
The Nutcracker at The Puppet Company

Covering a myriad of puppetry styles from full upright human puppets to tiny hand-puppets, with rods and marionettes in-between, the production is filled with wondrous surprises that keeps theatergoers of all ages completely captivated with everything that is happening upon the stage. Clara, performed at her full upright size by Annette M. Wasno, and her brother Fritz, performed at his full upright size by Rose Talbot, start a fantastical tale on its way by playing with their new toys underneath the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. The arrival of Godpapa Drosselmeyer, performed at his larger than life upright size by Christopher Piper, sets the magic in motion when he presents the children with a puppet show featuring the show’s title character.

The design work alone speaks of wonder and holiday delight— the special effects that transform Clara from a full-sized human puppet to a standard marionette are astonishing. The handcrafted care that Piper has imbued into the dozens of puppets and masks featured throughout the performance is exquisite. Enchanting does not begin to describe the feelings that surge forth from seeing these fantastical characters and the way they move about upon the stage.

Truly a spectacle the time-honored performance art of puppetry infuses the ballet and Tchaikovsky’s brilliant score into a wonderland of sights and sounds that excite the eyes, entrance the ears, and fill the heart with that radiant spirit that can only be found at Christmas time. Delightful dances from the enormous Russian dolls on their peppermint stools to the flower-bed ballet entreat the audience to each of the movements within The Nutcracker Suite. The mystical flying genie implores the use of lighting effects most thoroughly as do several other mysterious moments throughout.

The Nutcracker at The Puppet CompanyThe Puppet Company
The Nutcracker at The Puppet Company

Piper and his cast of puppet performers enchant the holiday season with their production of The Nutcracker, surprises for everyone all around. If you are looking to give the perfect gift this Christmas as Godpapa Drosselmeyer gives to Clara, then a ticket to see The Puppet Company’s production of this performance might just do the trick.

Running Time: Approximately 50 minutes with no intermission

The Nutcracker plays through December 30, 2014 at The Puppet Company in Glen Echo Park— 7300 MacArthur Boulevard in Glen Echo, MD. For tickets call the box office at (301) 634-2270 or purchase them online.


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