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December 11, 2011

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Lavish 'Nutcracker' pulls out all stops

A lavish Christmas production of "The Nutcracker" ballet is designed by famed British choreographer Derek Deane and incorporates Chinese elements, such as traditional dances and a dragon. And there's a crystal flying sleigh.

The production of the classic at the Shanghai Grand Theatre on December 23-25 will be staged by the Shanghai Ballet and the Shanghai Opera House Orchestra.

Deane is the former artistic director of the English National Ballet.

"Staging 'The Nutcracker' for Christmas has become a theater tradition, but some troupes simplify sets or props and reduce the number of performers to save costs, which undermines the quality, but we present a production of the highest quality," according to Zhang Zhe, director of the Shanghai Grand Theatre.

This production, with Tchaikovsky's famous score, pulls out all the stops and features a large cast with extravagant costumes and props, dizzying dance steps, interesting plot twists and magic tricks.

Colorful sets include a candy kingdom and there are special effects such as a crystal flying sleigh.

One scene celebrates sweets, sugarplums and chocolate from Spain, Coffee from Arabia and tea from China. All the goodies dance.

Guo Hongyu, who plays the role of Clara, has recently danced into some fashion landmarks, such as the Bund, Tianzifang and art hub M50 while shooting a promotional video of the production, capturing the attention of many passersby.

"The Nutcracker" is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Tchaikovsky.

The libretto is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King." It premiered at the Mariinsky Theater in St Petersburg, Russia, in 1892.

The story begins on Christmas Eve when the little girl Clara is given a wooden nutcracker shaped like a toy soldier, which comes to life, becomes a prince and takes her on a magical journey.

Last year's ballet played to a full house. To date, more than 70 percent of this year's tickets have been sold.

Date: December 23-25, 7:15pm

Venue: Shanghai Grand Theatre, 300 People's Ave

Tickets: 120-680 yuan (US$19-106)


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