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A jazzy 'Nutcracker'

After a successful local debut a year ago, The Nutcracker All Jazzed Up dance show is being brought back by the Dance Workshop on Dec. 16 and 17.

"People loved it," said Gloria Tyndall, who founded the dance studio 25 years ago and co-choreographed the current show with her assistant, Nicole Vaporis.

The jazzed-up version keeps the classical Tchaikovsky score but gives it a definite backbeat to go along with the tap, jazz, hip-hop and musical comedy staging in many of the scenes.

The story is similar to the original Nutcracker, but the time, place, characters and costuming are quite different.

The original is set in a Victorian parlor, where the young girl Clara is given a toy nutcracker for Christmas. She goes to sleep and is transported to another world, where a fierce Rat King attacks and she is rescued by her Nutcracker, who has grown into a life-sized man.

All Jazzed Up is set in a modern living room, where the Rat King is instead a Mouse Queen (Nicole Partlow), and a heroic Clara (Nicole John) steps in to rescue a cowering Nutcracker (Michael Jones) when he seems to be near defeat.

Then, just as in the original, the couple are whisked away to Magic Land, but there they are entertained not by the traditional towering Mother Ginger and her tiny charges but by a Jamaican beach bum and little girls in red and silver Santa outfits dancing to Tchaikovsky done to a reggae beat.

The colorful wooden soldiers dance like Rockettes, adding shimmies and shakes as they do a comedy routine.

The most traditional touch is a classic ballet by the Sugarplum Fairy (Aimee McKinney), but even that departs from the original when she performs alone, not with the traditional Cavalier.

The 44-member cast presents the traditional gifts from Spain, Persia and Asia, all in colorful costumes.

The jazzed-up version also adds a romantic element, when Clara sings a wishful love song in the beginning and later dances a sensual pas de deux with her Prince (Jones). Clara spins away on her own to complete it.

Ms. Tyndall said she discovered the new version of the Christmas season favorite at a dance convention a couple of years ago. She thought students would enjoy doing it and that audiences would enjoy seeing a classic with a new look.

IF YOU GO

'The Nutcracker All Jazzed Up'

Where: Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School, 13651 Hays Road (off State Road 52), Hudson.

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 16; 2 p.m. Dec. 17.

Tickets: $15, reserved seating; groups of five or more, $12. Call (727) 845-3626 after 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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