Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pbt's'nutcracker' Still Delights in 15th Season

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pbt's'nutcracker' Still Delights in 15th Season

Article excerpt

It's hard to believe that Terrence Orr's sparkling version of "The Nutcracker" for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre has been around for 15 years and is once again filling the stage at the Benedum Center. That can be reason enough to give pause for reflection.

Certainly, we could appreciate that the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra also was playing at Heinz Hall for its first concerts after a contentious strike threw a dark pall over the Cultural District and its businesses. That alone could have reminded artists and audiences to be more aware of how important the arts are, not only to our souls, but to the city's bottom line.?

Although the PBT orchestra has not returned to be part of the annual "Nut," (there was, however, a passionate vow from the administration to make that happen in the future), the cast, and particularly Alexandra Kochis' radiant Marie, seemed elated by the seasonal spirit on opening night Friday. Her Marie was a childlike figure whose face reflected the magic of it all while gently knocking on the brink of adulthood as she indulged in her first romance with Luca Sbrizzi (Nephew/Nutcracker).

The two made for a lovely pairing - he giving her confidence and security, she responding with an unabashed and welcome warmth. Ms. Kochis embraced it all, entranced by the Nutcracker that Drosselmeyer gave her and thrilled by the Transformation where everything grew larger than life, making it seem like we were all seeing it for the first time.

Using soft, flowing arms, she embodied Marie in one of the strongest performances seen at PBT over 15 years. Along with Mr. Luca Sbrizzi (Nephew/Nutcracker), they built their journey together, culminating with free, sweeping solo turns in "Waltz of the Flowers."

As usual Mr. Orr tinkered with his creation, adding new details for veteran "Nut" goers (they should have a contest to see how many can spot them). …

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