Jay Beeler

Wow. I was very impressed after seeing the Long Beach Ballet’s holiday classic “The Nutcracker” at the Terrace Theater on Dec. 16 for the very first time. It was mesmerizing and spectacular – far beyond anything you might expect at a dancing performance.

Now in its 41st year with millions of viewers, this is a show that you need to see for yourself. There are no speaking or singing components, just a full symphony orchestra accompanying more than 200 dancers. There were six Long Beach shows this year, two weeks before Christmas.

“The Nutcracker” tells the story of a little girl and her toys on Christmas Eve. The toys come to life and a Nutcracker figure/doll helps lead the fight against an army of mice. At the end of this two-act classic, the mouse king is defeated, and the Nutcracker turns into a handsome prince, according to one online description.

Each act has about 12 Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky musical “tracks” with the popular “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” among the best known by me, performed by the 60-member orchestra.

In 2018 and 2019, Goldstar audiences voted the Long Beach Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” as the “best-loved” production in the nation. There’s even a live, white horse, a flying sleigh, and pyrotechnics during the performance, thrilling the capacity audience of 3,051 in the Terrace Theater.

Kudos to David Wilcox, artistic director of the Long Beach Ballet, for bringing this outstanding attraction to our city, drawing attendees from throughout Southern California. A Los Angeles native, Wilcox began studying dance at the age of 11. He continued his studies in London and at the age of 19 began his professional career in Germany where he danced with the Berlin Ballet, the Nuremberg Ballet and the Heidelberg Ballet.

In 1981, he co-founded the Long Beach Ballet, which became Southern California’s most successful ballet company.

On their website, Wilcox says that he is excited to present this special rendition of the beloved holiday tale. A former ballet virtuoso himself, he now brings his power, strength, grace and artistry to the production, which features both new surprises and classic entertainment.

“I like using the beauty of the classical art form of ballet, which has taken 500 years to develop to the level that it is today, to form a production that’s enticing and exciting. It has pyrotechnics, it has magic; it’s got everything I can think of to make it thrilling. This production is not just for people who like ballet. You can hate ballet and you’ll still like this production,” he stated.


We are indeed fortunate to have performances such as this in Long Beach. Musical Theatre West, International City Theatre, Long Beach Symphony, the Carpenter Center for the Performing Arts are among the venues offering first-class acts for all to enjoy.

It’s that time of year to make resolutions for 2024. I’m putting more of these local productions at the top of my list.

Our theater writer for several decades, Ben Miles, has been having health issues and you may note that his column is missing in recent editions of the Beachcomber. We look forward to his complete recovery and return to these pages.

Meanwhile, we will utilitze Ben’s space to promote more upcoming theater performances and welcome news release submissions from those publicists.


Funny stuff from Mich Tobin:

I’m so excited! My family wanted to give me a special Christmas present. They gave me one dart and a world map and said, “Throw the dart and wherever it lands, we will go there after the Christmas holidays.

So, it looks like we’ll be spending two weeks behind the refrigerator.


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