Who has the best version of The Nutcracker? Colorado does.
After 56 years of Gumdrops and Mouse Kings, Sugar Plum Fairies and Nutcracker Princes, the Colorado Ballet has won its first "Nutty" — the annual Goldstar National Nutcracker Award, given for the country's most popular live performance of Tchaikovsky's most famous ballet.
The Nutcracker is one of those shows that children fight for roles in and dancers' families drag themselves to, again and again, year after year. Some moms and dads who really love their kids — maybe a little too much — could be dragged to 28 performances by the Colorado Ballet this season alone, the company's 56th annual production of the holiday favorite.
Putting on The Nutcracker is no small feat, and most of the work is done on, well, small feet. This year's production involved 300 costumes, 31 company dancers, 25 studio company dancers and 76 academy dancers, according to the Colorado Ballet.
And while there are more than eighty Nutcracker casts out there wishing they had won the award — for everything from hip-hop to burlesque renditions — Colorado Ballet's traditional performance was voted by fans as number one.
Beating eighty other companies is a tough nut to crack.
The nation's most popular version of The Nutcracker runs through Saturday, December 24, at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. But if you want to see it for yourself, you'd better have a friend with tickets, because performances are sold out. For more information, go to coloradoballet.org.