PORTLAND – Maine State Ballet will ring in the holiday season with “The Nutcracker,” beginning Thanksgiving weekend at Merrill Auditorium.

The seasonal favorite tells the classic story of Clara and the Nutcracker Prince as they journey through a snow-covered forest and into the Palace of the Sweets where they are greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy and her spectacular court.

Tchaikovsky’s popular score will be brought to life again this year by the Maine State Ballet Orchestra and the voices of two singing groups during the snow scene – the Southern Maine Childrens Chorus and the Wescustago Youth Chorale. The Southern Maine Childrens Chorus is directed by Lise Dunn and Renovia Marro. It will perform Nov. 29 and 30. The Wescustago Youth Chorale, directed by Ann Dillon, will sing during the second weekend of shows, Dec. 5 – 7.

Over the course of the seven Nutcracker shows, 250 local Maine dancers will perform onstage. Among them are Audrey Prentice of Auburn; Emily Riley, Erin Rutherford and Alesa Yuodsnukis of Brunswick; Audrey Boyd of Fryeburg; Rebecca Archer and Cameron Provost of Gray; Zoe Bodwell, Tricia Busa, Breanna Jenkins, Clare Kramer, Miranda Murphy, Madison Perkins, Lauren Ruby and Isabel Wolfe of Harrison; Paige D’Amboise of Lisbon; Zoe Ward of Lovell; Errol Kurtz, Grace Kurtz and Patrick Murphy of Naples; Sarah Tajonera of New Gloucester; Sabrina Cortez of Paris; Kaitlin Davis, Sofia Flemming, Adrienne Pelletier and Rhiannon Pelletier of Raymond; Adriana Gorham of Rumford; Ron Trell of Topsham; and Elise Dekutoski, Hannah Leonard, Nikki Moore and Jasmine Rondeau of Waterford.

Performance times are 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 29; 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 30; 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5; 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7.

Tickets, $15 – $45, are on sale now through Port-tix at 842-0800 or www.porttix.com. For more information, call 781-7672 or visit www.mainestateballet.org.

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