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Ballet bling 

A little girl's visions of a giant toy, dancing mice, and a kingdom of sweets come to life this weekend for Ballet Theatre of Ohio's production of The Nutcracker. And the troupe has amped up Tchaikovsky's holiday classic with some sparkle. "We're going to have magnificent new costumes and lots of great props," says Valerie Renner, the ballet's spokeswoman. "And our dancers are going to be gorgeous." (Bedecked? Adorned?) In sequins and glitter, the ballet starts with a set of siblings squabbling over their Christmas presents. The storyline then flows into a dream sequence in which a slighted sister rescues her beloved nutcracker doll from a pack of malicious rats. The troupe's task is to keep the young'uns glued to their seats. "We've structured our ballet around that fundamental question: How can they sit through two hours?" says Renner. "The story has to be truthful and powerful." Staging it in the Akron Civic Theatre doesn't hurt: It's trumpeted as one of only five "atmospheric" venues in the country. "We have stars twinkling and clouds moving above the audience. We have an actual cannon and a little castle on stage," says Renner. "Our Nutcracker is nothing short of magical." The dancing starts at 7 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Akron Civic Theatre, 182 South Main Street in Akron. Tickets are $18 to $25. Call 330-253-2488 or visit www.akroncivic.com.
Starts: Dec. 1. Daily, 7 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 2, 2 p.m., 2007

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