When Suzanne and I went to the Nutcracker years ago, I would be in the audience and she would be on stage in a progression of roles — mirliton, polichinelle, party child — as her ballet skills improved. We reminisced about those days, about personalities in the ballet studio, including the earnest Mr. Ben, husband of the studio owner, who was pressed into service each Christmas as leading man and whose lifts looked ever more shaky as the years wore on.
And there were stories behind this production, too; we just didn't know them. We were, instead, caught up in the illusion, a gasp as the curtain rises, a sigh as it descends.
(Above: The Nutcracker's original performance in 1892.)