BOTTOM LINE: brilliant choreography and music with a side of screaming children.
The Nutcracker is The Nutcracker and the NYC Ballet does an incredible job with some of the most talented dancers and musicians out there. It's an overly dramatized ballet with an easy to understand story line that makes you feel all gooey and Christmasy inside. I'm not going to lie, I enjoy this ballet despite the cheesiness with which it drips. And for $40, you can get a decent seat (albeit in the fourth tier). If you like ballet and can tolerate schmamy Christmas stories, The Nutcracker is a sure thing.
BIG GLARING HOWEVER: Since when did it become acceptable to allow screaming kids to run around a theatre during a live performance? Throughout the majority of the ballet, this insufferable two year old behind me talked incessantly. It was mostly indecipherable sounds of boredom, but sometimes she'd get really into it and let us know her thoughts ("I like the yellow one!") And most of time time her mother would let out an equally insufferable "sssssshhhhhhhhhh" to let us know she wasn't the crappy parent we all suspected. This continuted throughout the performance, but was dwarfed in annoyance when a crying baby a few sections over wouldn't shut up...oh, and its mother didn't think she needed to remove said baby either (until the usher told her she had to). After intermission when all the children returned with cellophane wrapped goodies from the lobby, it was the candy crinkling on top of the two year old's mutterings that took precedence in my brain...sorry Tschaikovsky. I'm all for taking children to cultural events and exposing them to the arts and to be fair, there were a lot of kids there that had really great manners. But the ballet is not the circus, even if it is The Nutcracker, and it's insanely disrespectful to the performers and audience members to allow a distraction like that to continue.
Maybe I was there on a rough night, and maybe it's better if you're not sitting in the fourth tier. Check out The Nutcracker if you're a fan of the ballet or of dance in general, just be warned that you might need to work a little harder to tune-out those around you.
(The Nutcracker is a seasonal show that ends in early January. You can get tickets at nycballet.com or by going to the box office at Lincoln Center.)