"THE NUTCRACKER," Ballet West, Capitol Theatre, Dec. 4, additional performances through Dec. 31 (801-355-2787)

A vision of the Sugar Plum Fairy will remain in the heads of those who attended Ballet West's opening night of "The Nutcracker."

Christiana Bennett and her cavalier, Christopher Ruud, drew cheers from the audience with their interpretations of the late Willam F. Christensen choreography.

Bennett was as delicate as candy floss as she took the stage during her part of the grand pas de deux. Her lines and extensions with each movement were captivating.

Likewise, Ruud's nimble-footed variation was highlighted by his lightness as he leaped across the stage. And when the two danced together, the audience could feel the trust between the dancers, and the artistic chemistry.

Highlights included the five-man Russian variation, which is always a crowd-pleaser due to the energy, dips and leaps. The Chinese segment was, as usual, quick and spry, while the Arabian piece was moody and mystical.

The Spanish dancers, the Mirlitons and Waltz of the Flowers rounded out the second-half works.

Also on the favorites list was Mother Buffoon and her children. They were the light-hearted humor of the second act.

Spotlight segments of the first act included the battle scene, during which the Nutcracker Prince defeats the swashbuckling Mouse King. The mice drew laughter from the audience as they scrambled to overcome the toy soldiers.

Then there was the Snow pas de deux performed by Romi Beppu and Michael Beardon. The new, winter-forest scenery added a more open feeling, even though the corps struggled a bit to keep in sync.

All wasn't as tight as it could have been throughout the performance. Some of the formations were crooked and timing was a bit off.

However, the audience didn't seem to mind.