Friday, December 5, 2014

Pick of the Week - "The Nutcracker" Leaps into Pittsburgh’s Benedum Center

PBT Dancer Olivia Kelly in a  Scene from "The Nutcracker" Photo Credit Rich Sofranko

Those lucky enough to get a ticket to Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Christmas season production of "the Nutcracker" are in for something special. Artistic director, Terrence Orr, has given the classic work danced by countless professional companies around the world each December several Pittsburgh touches including the setting.
The opening act is set in the F. W. McKee mansion on Fifth Avenue in Shadyside, which was eventually demolished to make way for an apartment complex. Another Pittsburgh landmark that makes its way into designer Zack Brown’s set is a rendition of the beloved Kaufmann’s clock, which once graced the exterior of the iconic department store on the corner of Smithfield and Fifth. The audience should also expect new Pittsburgh surprises and nuances from Orr and Brown in this year’s  production which was first mounted in 2002.
To tweak the story line a bit, Orr called on Milan Stitt, professor and head of dramatic writing at Carnegie Mellon University and together they selected elements from the original E. T. A. Hoffmann story and gave them a more colorful dramatic focus. And to create the sleight of hand and disappearing acts carefully executed at the party by Godfather Drosselmeyer, Orr enlisted the services of local magician Paul Gertner.
Along with lush sets and the timeless music of composer, Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, played live by the PBT Orchestra, the production allocated $50,00 for materials for the requisite 215 costumes, more than half of which were built in Pittsburgh at PBT.
PBT will stage 23 public performances of "The Nutcracker" from Dec. 5 to 28 and feature 170 dancers on the stage of the Benedum Center. For tickets, phone 412-456-6666 or online at

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