Eastern Connecticut Ballet presents its 'Nutcracker'

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There are new sites to see at this year’s Eastern Connecticut Ballet production of “The Nutcracker,” the perennially popular show that is set in 19th-century New London.

The show boasts some fresh scenery andspecial effects this time around, with backdrops by set designer Fufan Zhang, who earned her MFA from Yale School of Drama. In fact, the drops were built at the Yale School of Drama’s set design shop.

The new scenery is focused on southeastern Connecticut’s seafaring history. For instance, the opening scene is set in the Whaling City’s port in 1850, and ECB executive director Lise Reardon researched what the port and its buildings looked like during that time.

So theatergoers will see a backdrop with such familiar structures as the Custom House and a Whale Oil Row building. They’ll see, too, everything from the New London Lighthouse to Arctic ice fields, which is where some of New London’s whale ships travelled.

The aforementioned special effects, meanwhile, will range from a blizzard on the Arctic sea to a growing Christmas tree.

Of course, the bigger effects here are the ones provided the prodigiously talented group of dancers. Two stars from the New York City are returning to perform as the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Cavalier — Sara Mearns and Jared Angle. Guest artists from Miami City Ballet will be part of the performance, as will 100 trained dancers from ECB.

And a note of local interest: Making a cameo appearance will be New London Mayor Michael Passero.

Eastern Connecticut Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” 1:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Garde Arts Center, 325 State St., New London; $42-$52 adults, $25-$32 kids, 50% discount to active military and their families for Sat. night show only but additional discounted rates on matinees as well; (860) 444-7373.



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