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'Nutcracker' redux

A three-way collaboration that brought "The Nutcracker" from Ohio to Shea's Performing Arts Center last year will be repeated this weekend.

"Audiences loved it," said Anthony C. Conte, president of Shea's, which worked with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and BalletMet of Columbus to stage Tchaikovsky's classic holiday ballet in 2006.

Like last year's production, the performances Saturday and Sunday will be a community undertaking, with 60 children from area dance and ballet schools joining BalletMet's 28 professional dancers on the Shea's stage.

BalletMet's lighthearted, traditional "Nutcracker" was created by Artistic Director Gerard Charles and theater artist Robert Post and debuted in 2004.

The production includes opulent scenery and elegant, fantastical costumes, narration of the original "Nutcracker" fairy tale and such touches as a Christmas tree that grows 20 feet onstage.

Featured are Mother Ginger, a flamboyant matriarch whose children live under her skirt, giant rats running about the theater with oversized silverware, a BalletMet Dance Academy student dancing as young Clara and more than 130 other academy students appearing as frenetic mice, rifle-twirling soldiers and heart-melting pages.

This weekend's performances will be at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $28 to $55, with $10 off on level A and B child seats. Order from Ticketmaster at 852-5000 or, or at the Shea's box office, 650 Main St.

-- Tom Buckham

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