American Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’ Opening

Just before Christmas, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, more than 100 American Ballet Theatre supporters are there a "family friendly" pre-show gala on opening night of the company’s new production of "The Nutcracker." Notable guests included David Koch, Blaine Trump, Ana Gasteyer and Veronica Webb.

Many carried their children, who were well-dressed and well – behaved. They queued for a photo-op against a fake snowed-in forest with the production’s adorable scene-stealer, the three-foot tall, skinny-limbed, pot-bellied mouse, played by 10-year old Raju Sawak.

No child complained of hunger, thanks to two food stations. One featured Russian-themed snacks like blinis, pierogies and chicken soup. The other: fudge, cheesecake popsicles, wrapped chocolates, and donuts. The actress Mary-Louise Parker stacked a dozen treats on a plate and brought them to her mother sitting on a nearby couch. "I mean, who doesn’t like candy?" she asked. The actress had taken dance classes from the age of 4 to 17, but, she said, "I was not very good." She makes the Nutcracker an annual tradition for her two children, who were off coloring marionette.

With New York City Ballet running its own Nutcracker at Lincoln Center, who better to sift through the dissimilarities between productions than 10-year-old Sara Rose Shannon, who last year performed with NYCB and now appears in one of the irregular casts at BAM. "This one’s a little more modern," she said.

"Did she tell you she’s understudy for the mouse?" asked her mother, Jennifer. "And that little mouse has a very big role." When Sara Rose was then asked if she’d ever daydream about debilitating the dancer whose role she understudied, she very sweetly and firmly said no. Apparently, she hadn’t seen "Black Swan."

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