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Holiday ballet treat to return to city

In spite of it being a Grinch of a year in 2020, a delightful Christmas tradition will be returning to the Camellia City in early December.

The Montgomery Ballet Theater (MBT) is bringing back the beloved holiday classic “The Nutcracker” to Greenville.

Following several MBT performances over the last few years being mounter at the Greenville High School auditorium, including “The Nutcracker,” “Snow White” and other productions, MBT will be moving their 49th production of the Christmas treat downtown to Commerce St. and the fabled Ritz Theatre this holiday season.

The performance is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 5 at 6:30 p.m.

“The Nutcracker,” which features music by Russian composer Pytor Tchaikovsky, is based loosely on a rather frightening early 19th century fairy tale by E.T.A. Hoffman. In 1844, Alexandre Dumas of “Three Musketeers” fame adapted it into a more family-friendly story, and it is Dumas’s version that is the basis for the ballet so many know and love today.

A half-century after Dumas penned his adaptation, composer Tchaikovsky worked with ballet teacher Marius Pepita (with whom he had also collaborated on “Sleeping Beauty”) to create what would become one of the world’s best-known and most frequently viewed ballets.

“The Nutcracker” is the story of a young girl, Clara, and her magical journey into the Land of Sweets with her nutcracker prince come-to-life. The tale opens in a merry household celebrating Christmas with family and friends. Clara, daughter of the party’s hosts, is given a nutcracker soldier doll as a gift by Herr Drosselmeyer, an enigmatic dollmaker with extraordinary skills.

Clara and the Nutcracker Prince experience many harrowing, amusing and exciting adventures. The audience is fully engaged as the pair encounters the evil Mouse King and his minions, before being swept off through snow to engage with many colorful and lively characters who inhabit the whimsical Land of Sweets.

The cast is made up of professional dance company members and students of the Montgomery Ballet’s school. The same beautiful and intricate hand-crafted costumes seen on the stage in Montgomery will be showcased in the Camellia City performance, along with the familiar strains of Tchaikovsky filling the Ritz.

From lively swordplay and falling snow to adorable angels and elegant waltzing flowers, the show offers a magical feast for the senses.

With ballet companies across the country and around the world forced to cancel their performances or go virtual due to the 2020 pandemic, Executive assistant Anna Jensen of the MBT says the company is proud to continue to serve the greater community with performance art, its company members grateful to still be dancing.

“Our dancers have been safely rehearsing and training for this wonderful production since September. Due to COVID-19, all precautions will take place on and off stage to protect the company’s dancers, production crew and audience during the performance,” said Jensen.

Tickets are $15 each and available online at montgomeryballet.org.

“Due to social distancing guidelines, we are offering limited seating for our performance in Greenville, so we do advise purchasing your tickets early,” Jensen said.

“This year’s pandemic and months of quarantine makes each performance simply that much more special now. We see the 49th edition of MBT’s ‘The Nutcracker’ as all the more joyous an experience for dancers and audiences alike in the 2020 holiday season.”

For anyone who cannot make it to the Ritz on Dec. 5, the MBT will be taking the production to Tallassee Nov. 28-29 and to Montgomery Dec. 11-13. For more information, email info@montgomeryballet.org.