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Revisit "The Nutcracker's" Magic

For children, seeing "The Nutcracker" ballet is a holiday rite of passage, and for adults it becomes a yearly ritual that reconnects them to childhood memories. Ridgefield Playhouse presents this classic Christmas-themed ballet on Dec. 18 and 19, in three performances by professional dancers and students from the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance .

Beloved as it now is, when it was first written, "The Nutcracker" ballet veered more toward horror show than holiday treat. Its author, E. A. Hoffman, a complicated man, indulged his dark side, poplulating the libretto with a hideous dwarf, many convoluted evil spells and a seven-headed mouse king in need of extermination.  Luckily, famed composer Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, and the ballet's respected choreographer, Marius Petipa, had already signed on to the production. Alarmed, they used their clout to call for a rewrite and the sunnier, more traditional story resulted. In the new, improved "Nutcracker,"  a mouse king stirs up trouble but is dispensed with quickly, allowing the young heroine, Clara and her Nutcracker Prince, to head to the Kingdom of Sweets, where things get pretty magical. The ballet's stunning score includes "The Dance of the Sugarplums," probably Tchaikovky's most famous music, and its accompanying choreography is equally breathtaking. Bring your family to see the remarkable characters, costumes and choreography of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" at Ridgefield Playhouse to begin your own holiday traditiion. Performances are 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $25. For more information, visit the Playhouse's website .

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