501 Texas Ave
Houston, Texas 77002
Its December again so my mom and I are on our way to see the Nutcracker at the Wortham Theater. We are wearing dresses, heels, and shawls – because it is as cold as the North Pole inside. Driving up to theater in downtown, the building looks like a giant’s bird face from the front: the high arch of windows looks like a beak, and two great circles imprinted in the brick look like eyes. The dark stripes along the side of the building add to the effect.
Across the street is Downtown Aquarium. Most people might drive right past the Wortham because the Aquarium is flashier and more colorful. The Wortham is just a brown building that looks like a bird to a creative eye, but the Aquarium has an actual swordfish fountain with water coming out of the nose. But it’s not good to always be distracted by flash; sometimes you need to try something that’s really out of the ordinary.
After valet takes our car, we enter through the glass doors. A woman with a pleasant look on her face says, “Good evening, your theater will be down the hall to the left. Enjoy the show!” As we walk to our seats, I smile at how smooth the red, luxurious carpet feels. There are reflections of us everywhere we look because there are hundreds of mirrors in the hallway. The other theatergoers are wearing glittery blacks and creams, little girls are draped in bows, ruffles, and flower designs.
The more I look, the more I am amazed by how much a theater naturally looks like Christmas: red carpets and seats, gold railing, the glitter of the mirrors. The building smells like pine and cinnamon, is filled with chatter and laughter as people make their way to the seats. Mom and I find our seats in the middle of the theater.
“I remember when you were up on that stage, Ty,” my mom teases.
It’s true. The first time I came to the Wortham Theater it was to be a clown in the Mother Ginger scene of the Nutcracker. I had been taking dance lessons at the Houston Ballet for one year and I auditioned, and I was chosen. The first time I saw the Nutcracker was from the side of the stage, as I waited with butterflies in my stomach for my scene to come up.
Tonight I glance down at my watch. It is fifteen minutes until show time. To let the audience know this, the orchestra plays a soft melody, and the audience begins to shush. The thick velvet curtains open to reveal a fantastic, snowy Christmas Eve scene. A family on stage is getting ready for a party. A nutcracker she gets as a gift will come to life during the course of play, and I eagerly watch it all. I glance at the children in the row ahead of me; their expressions are full of excitement. Even though it’s a play without words, they want to know what happens next. This is common in ballets. My sister went to see her first ballet, Don Q, and told me she was amazed at how the ballet dancers’ movements told the story so well that she understood their emotions.
Before I know it, its break time, also known as intermission. Everybody in the audience stretches, and grunts as they move their bodies for the first time after sitting a long time. I have noticed lots of people enjoy intermission because it is there time to take a bathroom break and grab a couple of snacks to satisfy there hunger. Ding Ding, well there goes the bell that lets everyone know it is time to go back to there seats to enjoy the rest of the ballet.
So the ballet is finally over, and the thick velvet curtains are down but they suddenly come back up, its curtain call, all of the dancers who have performed are taking there bows. The curtain call always makes me laugh a little because once you think its over the curtains come back up and people clap, and the curtains will go down. And they come up again and back down. You never know when the last bow is which makes it funny to me.
And of course seeing the faces of little girls giggling, and wishing that one day they could be on that stage dancing as one of the ballerinas that they saw that night, also brings a warmth to my heart.
We leave, and on our way out we stop by the green room. The green room is a room that is filled with mirrors from wall to wall. Fans of the dancers come in and get a chance to actually speak to the dancers’ one on one, get autographs, and also take memorable pictures. What is so spectacular about the green room is that the dancers are still in full costume and make-up, which looks different if you are looking at it from a far and them up close. Being in the green room makes me imagine myself being on the set of a movie seeing all the actors and actress fully dressed in make-up and wardrobe up close.
We go home. But it isn’t the last ballet. The Wortham offers a wonder of different ballets that you can go see with your friends and family such as the ballet Swan Lake. Swan Lake is a very popular ballet that is shown mostly in the winter season around Christmas.
One day maybe you will get a chance like my mom and I had to enjoy the talent at the Wortham on and off stage whether it is watching grand ballets, grand operas, musical plays, or letting the sounds from the orchestra take you to a place that you never want to come back from.