FA LA LA: Holiday Events Review
- NYC 12/01/2012 by Angela Church and Francia Smith (WBAI)


We have a long list of events we try to attend on a regular basis, but as any New Yorker will attest, time is always an issue.  So this past weekend, we opted to attend two quintessential New York Holiday events separately.  Francia attended the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Gardens, and I attended the opening night of The Nutcracker at the New York City Ballet.      


by Francia Smith
On our must do places to visit during the Holiday Season was the TRAIN SHOW at the New York Botanical Gardens. The staff has assembled 140 buildings and landmarks, trestles, tunnels and waterfalls with a backdrop of twinkling lights and a variety of trains, trolleys and trams scurrying around this magical city. 

Artistically crafted by Paul Busse’s team at APPLIED IMAGINATION (studios located in Alexandria, Kentucky), the unique feature of these structures is that they are created from a variety of natural materials one would find when strolling in the woods: twigs, bark, small leaves and acorns, just to name a few.

Just imagine, a scaled replica of the Metropolitan Museum circa 1900 all done in twigs and leaves — yes you HAVE to see it to really enjoy it. Among the many iconic structures you will see: St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Old Yankee Stadium the Old Penn Station (my favorite!) and many more examples of buildings from Manhattan as well as Brooklyn and the Bronx. You will pause and marvel at each structure, awe-struck by the creativity and craftsmanship associated with fabricating these old buildings. 

Happily, though the environment feels “out doorsy”; you can stroll leisurely and in comfort since this grand display is housed in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. The great “supporting” act is a quarter of a mile of train track, populated by a late 1800’s American steam engine as well as modern freight and passenger trains.

Don’t miss the cable cars that travel over the Conservatory’s reflecting pool or the child-friendly replica of THOMAS the Train!! All in all, this Holiday treat will appeal to the child in all of us! Visit nybg.org for more information about the show and other events for the holiday season.


by Angela Church

My sister was in town for Thanksgiving from Tennessee, and we got all dolled up for an elegant and exciting evening at the ballet!  Now I must confess, after seeing countless productions over the years, I have avoided “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” on the basis that I prefer to find new and quirky productions. 

Though after Friday’s performance, I now see why this production continues to be a favorite among New Yorkers.  We arrive to this experience: to the magnificent growing tree, the Sugar Plum Fairy, Dewdrop and the flowers (I LOVED Dewdrop!!!), the magical falling snow, Mother Ginger and the children! Though let me stop here and comment that the precision of the children throughout the production was not only splendid, it was slightly eery, perhaps due in part to the magnificence of Robert la Fosse’s Herr Drosselmeir.  It seemed as if all were his dolls until Act II, when the show exploded with magic and irresistible wonderment.

I am continually amazed by the principal dancers at NYCB (Maria Kowoski danced The Sugar Plum Fairy alongside Tiler Peck’s Dewdrop).  Kowoski in particular is an athletic force onstage, while Peck has a captivating vitality.  Both of these women, and indeed the entirety of the ballet’s dancers, reminded me of the athletic magnitude of their work.  The difference between them and Olympians is we are not allowed to see the dancers sweat.  

It was a chimerical night.  My sister and I were charmed, overwhelmed by the magic, and both agreed that we felt like little girls again believing in Christmas magic!  

Now - the rain Friday pushed most of the audience, and perhaps even some from the Philharmonic, into the subway and we were ready at the front.  Waiting for the train - happily musing about the visual confections we had just tasted.  Our train arrived and I was first to walk in - but woe of woes - my heel gets caught between the train and the platform!  It blithely slips off my foot and descends to the lower regions of our fair subway system. 

I am now left, a critic hopping on one 3.5 inch heel (yet another reminder of the grace of a dancer and blessedly thanking the Gap for their foldable flats), holding onto my sister who is in hysterics at the show of this and wondering if I am Cinderella or Marie?  Who will find my shoe?  I shudder.  Or did I kill a rat King?  Either way, I want to know where a Prince is.  Just saying.   Go see the “George Balanchine’s  The Nutcracker at the David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, (212) 496-0600, nycballet.com.  And, if a Prince does find my shoe, please do leave it as I will have already bought myself a new pair.

headline photo
Holiday Train Show at The New York Botanical Garden