“The Nutcracker” dazzles all ages at the Marcus Center

Although it’s one of the most well-known ballets in popular culture, I admit that I had never seen “The Nutcracker” before this Sunday. Besides being vaguely familiar with popular images and melodies from the show, I hardly even knew what it was about.

Beyond that, I’ve never even been to a ballet before. (Should I be embarrassed?!)

Nevertheless, “The Nutcracker,” playing through December 27th at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, may be a new holiday tradition for our family.

“The Nutcracker” is all of your whimsical holiday wishes and dreams wrapped up into one beautifully crafted two hour performance.

My three and a half year old and I ventured out Sunday afternoon on our very first date. (Oh my gosh, he’s getting so old!) We both dressed up and headed for downtown about a half hour before the performance.

You can park in the parking structure just north of the Marcus Center for $10.00 cash, or try to find meter parking. Since it was Sunday, we found a free spot on McKinley Ave. and walked a few blocks – but more on that later.

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I was relieved to see that the theater was packed with young families, though I didn’t see many kids quite as young as my little guy.

Little girls pranced around in fancy dresses and – not to be cheesy or anything – holiday spirit filled the air.

I explained ballet etiquette to my son and had suckers on hand if he got antsy. (That’s not allowed, by the way.)

When the curtain went up, we were immediately entranced by the intricate costumes, colorful set, and delicate dancing. To my surprise, the plot was light, humorous and easy to follow.

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(Marc Petrocci, Luz San Miguel. Photo: Mark Frohna)

My son especially loved the intense battle between the life-sized mice and toy soldiers. My favorite part were the dozens of dancers in blue sparkly tutus spinning around and dancing in unison as light snow fell around them in a snow-globe-like scene.

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(Annia Hidalgo. Photo Petr Zahradnicek.)

I couldn’t help but get a little choked up in my Milwaukee pride. Here we are, just a smallish Midwestern city in the beginning of our icky Winter. And right in our own backyard, without the hassle of big city traffic or parking issues, we have access to world class performances that will take your breath away.

Unfortunately for me and my Milwaukee pride, my son didn’t quite make it to the second half. Honestly, he might have been fine, but it pained me to think of potentially ruining someone else’s beautiful experience. Other moms have told me that their 3-4 year olds were perfectly fine during the performance. It just depends on your child.

I plan to take my son again next year. The show is truly made for kids and families. It is essentially a child’s Christmas dream brought to life.

Oh, and about that parking spot. My son’s dress shoes apparently don’t fit him anymore. If you saw a pathetic mother carrying her 42 lb. child five blocks in four-inch heels, that was me. Talk about a bi-cep workout!

Have you seen the Nutcracker? How old were your kids when you first brought them? Sound off below!

See a preview video and buy ticket here.

#nutcracker #marcuscenterforperformingarts

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