Local 'Nutcracker,' Nugget's Snack Bar both magical

I can't say enough about the Pinkerton Dance Company's "The Nutcracker." When I saw the opening show Friday, it was not only my first "Nutcracker," but my first ballet.

Before it started, house manager and volunteer Susie Giurlani explained how special "The Nutcracker" is for her and her family. She said the first time she saw it, it was pure magic.

"I hope it's magical for you, too," she said.

It really was, Susie.

From the scene of families walking to the big Christmas party through softly falling snow, I was transported to another place. The performance was not only dance, but delightful acting, too - all accompanied by Tchaikovsky's classic compositions.

The costumes were wonderfully elaborate, the dancing was really impressive (though I can't claim any knowledge of ballet), and the silent acting - with dramatic, smiling faces - really swept me away. I don't know how the dancers keep a calm, happy look on their faces despite the physical exertion of leaps, twists, kicks and jumps. It's fascinating to see them strut about on the tips of their toes. My jaw dropped when Armen Hagopian did his Russian dance - kicking his legs from an impossible squat - with a fur hat and a big grin.

The Kingdom of Sweets was certainly magical. I laughed out loud when John Lee, playing Mother Gigogne with his 5 o'clock shadow, joyously stirred cookie dough, while all those little girls came out from under his 6-foot-tall dress. The finale included amazing back flips by gymnasts Breyanna and Erika Aufiero and Morgan Remick. When it ended, I leaned over to my date, clapping furiously, and said, "That was rad!"

Even the Rite of Passage guys who acted as ushers helped set a special mood in the Community Center. They were very professional in their shirts and ties. One took the time to collect a can that had rolled forward under the seats.

At the end, several spotlights were trained on the red Nutcracker left on the stage by Clara, played by Kelli Porter on Friday and Sunday and Cari Holmes on Saturday. Special-effects smoke swirled around the grinning wooden figure as the crowd exploded in applause.

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Somehow during almost four years living in Carson City, I hadn't sat down at the Nugget Casino's Snack Bar until last week. Let me tell you, that place is almost as magical as "The Nutcracker."

You can get fresh-baked pastries and pizza, strawberry/pineapple smoothies, nachos, even crackers and cheese at very reasonable prices.

A large tossed salad costs $1.50; the small one is only 95 cents. A scoop of tuna with crackers is $2.20. Over Thanksgiving, the special was roast turkey with mashed potatoes, sage stuffing, giblet gravy and cranberry sauce for $3.25. Shoot, where else can you get a half melon (usually cantaloupe) for $2?

I paid $1.50 for a salad with blue cheese dressing, $1 for a cup of coffee with two free refills and 19 cents tax. Throw in a couple of free crackers, and you've got a decent lunch for under $3.

"We do get a pretty good lunch crowd," said snack bar employee Marne Silva. "They come in and get half a sandwich and a cup of soup for $2.78, and they're gone."

The Nugget Snack Bar counter has 12 seats. The smoking section is on the left end, nonsmoking on the right. The snack bar, with pens secured to the counter every 2 feet, is open from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. each day, except Friday and Saturday when it's open until 11 p.m. Call 882-1626.

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The first live concert performed at the new Nevada Museum of Art is tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Wayne and Miriam Prim Theater.

Pianist Allan Fuller will perform "A Night of Austrian Classics." He is known locally for his Artown performances at the Beethoven at Bartley summer concert series. The museum is at 160 West Liberty St. in Reno. For tickets, call 329-3333.

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I'll see you all at the tree lighting on the Capitol grounds this evening. I can't wait to see how Beauregard, Bill Williams' latest driving dog, is doing. Look for the golden retriever driving the Model T in which Santa will arrive.

Contact Karl Horeis at khoreis@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.


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