Sarasota Ballet's circus-themed Nutcracker, with the Sarasota Orchestra playing the Tchaikovsky score, premieres this weekend. In this version of the holiday classic, choreographed by Matthew Hart, Clara runs away from her home in Art Deco New York City to join the Ringling Circus in Sarasota. Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday at Van Wezel Hall, Sarasota. $10-$90. (941) 359-0099, ext. 101; sarasotaballet.org. The Sarasota production transfers to Ruth Eckerd Hall for three performances Dec. 21-22. $35-$75. (727) 791-7400; rutheckerdhall.com.
Other stages also have Nutcrackers in the offing. Clara saves her beloved Nutcracker Prince from giant mice in the Bay City Ballet production at Largo Cultural Center at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 and 6 p.m. Sunday. $20.50-$25.50. (727) 587-6793; largoarts.com.
The Chocolate Nutcracker begins during the Harlem Renaissance and journeys to Jazzland, Gospeland, Land of Funk, Africa and Brazil in performances at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg. $17-$37. (727) 893-7832 or toll-free 1-800-874-9020; themahaffey.com.
John Fleming, Times performing arts critic