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A 'Nutcracker' With a Few Surprises

December 20, 1992|EMILY ADAMS

Just as the holiday season is heralded with carols and holly, it also comes each year with Clara, weeping over her nutcracker doll.

Few can forget Clara's tears or the magic of sugar plum fairies in Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker."

But just in case anyone has forgotten, the Los Angeles Classical Ballet is bringing its production of "The Nutcracker" to the Terrace Theatre in Long Beach for the ninth year in a row.

While it is called a classic production of the annual favorite, which was first performed in St. Petersburg in 1892, this Nutcracker has some elements not usually found at the ballet.

Fireworks, a giant "Ginger Mother" and a live horse will share the stage with 100 dancers during the 14 performances in Long Beach, said Robert Coontz, L.A. Classical Ballet spokesman.

The fireworks are a pyrotechnic snowfall: bright bits of flame substituting for icy flakes in the court of the Snow Queen. The "Ginger Mother" is a dancer perched atop a 20-foot ball gown with children hidden in her skirts.

And the horse that carries Clara and her Nutcracker Prince out of Act 1 is the USC Trojans' mascot, Traveler.

If these new frills are alarming to ballet purists, Coontz quickly points out that the two principal dancers are straight from Russia's famous Bolshoi Ballet.

Alla Khaniashvili will appear as the Sugar Plum Fairy opposite Vitaly Artyushkin as the Nutcracker Prince. The ballet also will feature Galina Shlyapina, former prima ballerina of the Moscow Classical Ballet.

During Act 2, set in the Sugar Plum Kingdom, the audience will be treated to dances from around the globe, Coontz said. Flamenco from Spain, a dance of gossamer and veils from Arabia and traditional Chinese movement will all be performed in classic ballet style.

For the second year, Los Angeles Classical Ballet will feature a set by Disney designer Elliot Hessayson.

Performances will be in the Terrace Theatre at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., through Dec. 27. Tickets are $34, $28 and $16. Information and tickets: (310) 436-3661.

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