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'Nutcracker,' traditional and updated, among holiday dance performances

"The Nutcracker" performances in the Southland include a ballet, a swing show and a marionette theater show. Other Christmas shows include the Rockettes, a Kwanzaa celebration and a "Scrooge" screening.

December 03, 2010|By Ramie Becker, Special to the Los Angeles Times

Holiday time means a whole lotta "Nutcracker" around L.A., but it's not all exactly what you'd expect. Besides the tried-and-true versions, there's a hot chocolate "Nutcracker," a swing "Nutcracker," a marionette version and more — plus great shows from the Radio City Rockettes, the county's 51st annual holiday celebration, film screenings and more. The following list should help you get out with the kids to see some live entertainment.

Debbie Allen's Hot Chocolate Nutcracker

Debbie Allen's "Hot Chocolate Nutcracker" offers plenty to satisfy that sweet tooth — it's Christmas Eve, the Johnson Family is hosting a grand party and young Kara receives a nutcracker filled with hot chocolate. With Allen herself starring, new music, spectacular dancing and three wisecracking mice to narrate the adventure, this chocolatey makeover of a holiday classic takes the audience on a magical odyssey. Royce Hall, UCLA, 405 Hilgard Ave., Westwood. 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 11, $20-$45, (310) 825-2101. http://www.thehotchocolatenutcracker.com.

The Nutcracker Swings The classical compositions of Pyotr Tchaikovsky and the 20th century jazz stylings of Duke Ellington fuse in "The Nutcracker Swings," the City Ballet of Los Angeles' innovative and exhilarating retelling of the classic piece. Set in 1942, the story focuses on Maria's love for Jim, a World War II hero whose gift to the heroine of a nutcracker doll sparks a fantastical journey through Christmas wonder. By combining classical and contemporary dance theater, the ballet company's artistic production offers a sophisticated homage to the original. Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, 4718 W. Washington Blvd., L.A. 8 p.m. Friday; 1 and 8 p.m. Saturday. $25 in advance, $35 at the door. http://www.cityballetofla.org.

Great Russian Nutcracker

Now celebrating its 18th annual tour of the U.S., Anatoly Emelianov's "Nutcracker" is a chance to witness the famous Moscow Ballet. But the world-class dancing isn't the only thing that sets this "Nutcracker" apart. Set against Valentin Fedorov's spectacular scenic design, the lush production features dancing puppets and a Rousseau-inspired backdrop of unicorns, exotic birds and animals. La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada. 3 and 7:30 p.m. Dec 19, $40-$120, http://www.nutcracker.com.

Bob Baker's Nutcracker

If you've never witnessed Bob Baker's whimsical world of puppetry, then make it a must-see this season. Join a host of his masterfully made marionettes for an original version of the classic ballet, featuring Baker's famous puppet versions of the sugarplum fairies, the Mouse King and, of course, the Nutcracker, in a holiday extravaganza sure to please kids of all ages. Bob Baker Marionette Theater, 1345 W. 1st St., L.A. 10:30 a.m. Tuesday to Friday; 2:30 p.m. Sat and Sun. (through Jan. 16). Adults $20, children $15, children 2 and younger free. (213) 250-9995; http://www.bobbakermarionettes.com.

Shushybye Holiday Musical

For the littlest ones in the family, the Shushybye Holiday Concert is sure to be a big hit. Starring Michael North and the Dreamsterette Singers, the Shushybye's first-ever holiday show will include appearances by the Shushybye Dream Band (Snoozles, Dozie and Zees) and the all-new Dreamsters (PJ the DJ, Starbright, Snore and Captain John Yawn). Rumor even has it that there will be a surprise appearance by a certain Mr. Claus. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West L.A. 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Saturday. $15, (310) 477-2055; http://www.shushybye.com.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

The Radio City Rockettes are a staple of Christmas in New York, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy them in sunny Southern California. With dazzling costumes and signature Rockette numbers like "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" and "Living Nativity," this family-friendly production captures the holiday spirit in that larger-than-life, legs-a plenty Rockette way that has kept audiences coming back for more than 75 years. Honda Center, 2695 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim. 7:30 p.m. Monday; 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, $58-$108. (714) 704-2500; http://www.hondacenter.com. Nokia Theater, 777 Chick Hearn Court, L.A. (at L.A. Live). Dec. 9-12, (check website for times) $35-$94 (213) 763-6030; http://www.nokiatheatrelalive.com.

Los Angeles Ballet's The Nutcracker

The company's production of the holiday classic, with original choreography by Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary, offers a few unique twists, including Catherine Kanner's set design (the action takes place in 1912 Los Angeles) and Mikael Melbye's costume design. Alex Theatre, 216 North Brand Ave., Glendale, Dec. 4, 5. Royce Hall, 340 Royce Drive, Westwood, Dec. 18, 19. Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Boulevard, Redondo Beach, Dec. 24, 26. For tickets and showtimes: (310) 998-7782; www.losangelesballet.org.

Lula Washington Dance Theatre's 30th Anniversary Kwanzaa Celebration

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