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Houston Ballet's Nutcracker
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Author:  gaeadea [ Tue Dec 09, 2003 2:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Houston Ballet's Nutcracker

Webb leads an energized 'Nutcracker'

By MOLLY GLENTZER
Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle

Just when you think there is nothing new in The Nutcracker, a night like Nov. 28 happens at the Wortham Theater Center. It was a reminder that in live theater, anything can happen.

After the show, artistic director Stanton Welch announced that Sugar Plum Fairy Sara Webb had made her final appearance as a soloist, because she was being promoted to the rank of principal. But the highly unusual onstage promotion -- the first I've seen at the Houston Ballet -- wasn't the evening's only unexpected twist.

Minutes earlier, as Webb's Prince, Zdenek Konvalina, flew through his final solo in the grand pas de deux, he landed awkwardly from a jump and crumpled to the floor. As the audience held its collective breath and conductor Ermanno Florio kept the Houston Ballet Orchestra going, Konvalina pulled himself up and hobbled offstage. Simon Ball, who'd been partnering Mireille Hassenboehler in the Waltz of the Flowers, stepped in quickly and confidently, finishing Konvalina's part beautifully. (Ball dances the role of the Prince on other nights, although he hadn't rehearsed with Webb.)

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