Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Puppet Co. Playhouse The Nutcracker

By • Nov 30th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
The Nutcracker
Puppet Co. Playhouse
Puppet Co. Playhouse, Glen Echo, MD
Through December 31st
50 minutes
Reviewed November 26th, 2011

The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet, with the score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The Nutcracker is the story of Clara who is given a nutcracker by a mysterious but kindly old gentleman who visits the house on Christmas night. Clara is later led on a magical journey through a land with mice, huge soldiers, and finally a prince. When you think of ballet you think of girls in tights and pink skirts dancing around the stage. Sounds a bit mundane.

Until you turn everything into puppets of various sizes. The five performers (Nora Achrati, Brestt Messiora, Christopher Piper, Matt Reckeweg, and Leslie Vincent) each played multiple roles, as several different types of puppets. The opening scene featured body puppets wearing pajamas. The performers relied on large movements and gestures to make the music of the story come alive.

The puppets ranged in size from hand puppets to marionettes to body puppets. The body puppets were ingenious, such as Russian dancers on stools wearing head masks, to a floating genie on a fluorescent table dancing with a magic scarf. The hand puppets were surprisingly expressive. The music was pre-recorded so the performers really had to have the timing down, which they did. The audience, both young and old, were entertained by the colors, puppets, and music.

After the performance we were given a backstage tour by Christopher Piper, who shared with us some of the magic of puppetry. The Puppet Company also features an on-site reference library for puppetry, and several examples of different puppets (A Christmas Carol) are on display in the library and lobby windows.

The Puppet Company’s telling of The Nutcracker, in a not-so-traditional way using not-so-traditional actors, was enchanting. If you’ve never experienced The Nutcracker, this is an excellent introduction. And if you’re weary of ballet versions, the Puppet Company comes to your rescue with their 24th year of performing this holiday classic.

Photo Gallery

Fritz, Mother and Clara-Marie The magician on his magic carpet
Fritz, Mother and Clara-Marie
The magician on his magic carpet
The Nutcracker and his toy soldiers battle the Mouse King and his minions
The Nutcracker and his toy soldiers battle the Mouse King and his minions

Photos by Christopher Piper


Nora Achrati, Brestt Messiora, Christopher Piper, Matt Reckeweg, Leslie Vincent

Production Staff

  • Director, Mask & Puppet Design, Puppetmaster: Christopher Piper
  • Original Staging, Music Arranger, Design Concept: Allan Stevens
  • Business Manager, Production Assistant, Costume Realization: Mayfield Piper
  • Lighting Design: Dan Brooks
  • Communications Development: Erin Gifford
  • Box Office Manager: Jon Gazarek
  • House Manager: Kathi Gollwitzer

Disclaimer: Puppet Co. Playhouse provided three complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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