Santa Cruz is a Nutcracker-palooza

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Is there anywhere in the world where the timeless ballet “The Nutcracker” is celebrated more widely than in Santa Cruz?

We here have a choice between two stellar, top-drawer productions in Tandy Beal’s amazing “Mixed Nutz” — closing this weekend — and the Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre’s full staging — to open Dec. 18.

What’s remarkable is that these two productions don’t in any way compete for each other. The SCBT’s production is a strictly traditional presentation of the ballet, with a full orchestral performance of Tchaikovsky’s timeless music. By contrast, “Mixed Nutz” is a bright, colorful and deeply moving re-imagining of “The Nutcracker.” You can see both and get two entirely different experiences from each.

For the record, there’s another production of “The Nutcracker” taking place this weekend at the Bethany College Theater in Scotts Valley.

If you want to see “Mixed Nutz” and don’t already have a ticket, tough luck. Word-of-mouth has attracted big crowds and the run is now sold out. But the beautifully staged traditional “Nutcracker” is just on the horizon. As an added bonus, Santa Cruz County district attorney Bob Lee and former Assemblyman Fred Keeley are both going to be part of the SCBT production.

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