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If you haven’t seen it, you have heard the music, or at least know that a simple nutcracker turns into something magical every Christmas. This year the Fredericksburg Ballet Centre presents its 34th production of the well-known story of Clara and her enchanting Nutcracker for three shows at James Monroe High School.

In this treasured holiday tale, Clara receives the doll on Christmas Eve from her mysterious godfather, Dr. Drosselmeyer, and falls asleep with it in her arms. While she sleeps the Nutcracker comes alive and slays the evil Mouse King, and is transformed into a prince.

He and Clara walk through the Kingdoms of Snow and Sweets, where they see beautiful dances by the swirling snowflakes and the Sugar Plum Fairy in a dream to be remembered by all.

“Every year is magical, and slightly different,” said Jennifer Cleaton, owner and executive director of the FBC. This will be her 17th year with the production.

FBC added new characters this year, incorporating jesters and a master of ceremonies into the story, and has three full backdrops to transport the audience into the mystical dream.

“The costumes glitter and shine under the lights often eliciting ‘ohs’ and ‘ahs’ from the audience,” said Cleaton. “Although we do not have the budget of professional dance companies, you would never know.”

“The Nutcracker” performance includes students as young as 3, teenagers and even adults.

“I become very attached to my dancers, so each ‘Nutcracker’ is bittersweet,” said Cleaton.

For some senior dancers of 10 or 12 years, this will be their last “Nutcracker,” though it is the first for many new dancers.

“My hope is that they, too, will one day be dancing in the role of Snow Queen, Dew Drop or Sugar Plum Fairy their senior year,” said Cleaton.

“The Nutcracker” encompasses the holiday spirit just in time for Christmas and is a way for families to celebrate together.

“For many, ‘The Nutcracker’ is a family tradition, and it brings a smile to my face when I see many generations together coming out to enjoy the magic of ‘The Nutcracker,’” said Cleaton.

What: “The Nutcracker,” presented by the Fredericksburg Ballet Centre

Where: James Monroe High School, 2300 Washington Ave.

When: Saturday, Dec. 21, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 22, at 2 p.m.

Cost: $16 in advance at FBC or Scrapdoodles, or $18 at the door


Alison Thoet: 540/374-5444