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San Diego Civic Theatre

1100 Third Avenue, Downtown San Diego

I went to The Nutcracker on Friday night at the Civic Theater. The production was by California Ballet and I have to admit that I was impressed. Of course, I'm not an expert when it comes to ballet.

The sets and costumes were great and didn't dominate the show. There is nothing I hate more than a show where the production and the sets are the stars instead of the performance.

During the opening scene I speculated about how much influence this ballet has had on our Christmas traditions. Two things come to mind when I consider the transformation of Christmas from a liturgical celebration to its current form. Those two things are Dickens' A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker.

The San Diego Symphony, or at least players from the San Diego Symphony, were in the pit... and here we go.

Tune it up brass section. Actually it wasn't just the tuning, how about playing the correct notes?

Ridiculous.

Playing the correct notes is the minimum acceptable standard.

Perhaps there wasn't enough rehearsal time. I don't care. When a company pays to hire what should be the best players in town, then the best players in town need to earn their money by at least playing what's written on the page.

I'm sure the offstage children's chorus wasn't being paid and they managed to find the right notes — more or less — but they're children, not union members.

Maybe it's difficult music. Again, I don't care. If it was easy then anyone could do it and it would be a minimum wage job.

The performance of the dancers warranted better support from the musicians.

Everything about the show was delightful on stage. When the little ones started popping out from under the big skirt I thought my six-year-old son was going to pee his pants.

There were also moments of great beauty and athleticism. The entire night, excepting the brass, was a Christmas miracle.

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