There is no more denying that the Christmas season has arrived: The Carolina Ballets production of the classic ballet Nutcracker begins this weekend.
The first performance is Friday at 2 p.m. in Raleighs Memorial Auditorium, a part of the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts. It continues through the weekend with shows Saturday and Sunday, also at 2 p.m.
The ballet set to music by Tchaikovsky tells the story of a family gathered for Christmas Eve, and the magical adventures the excited children dream up.
Even if you or your children have seen this ballet before, its worth going again.
The show was completely revamped last year. So unless you saw the show last year, you will find gorgeous new sets and costumes and stunning magic tricks that will impress all ages.
Artistic Director Robert Weiss worked with a well-known Las Vegas magician to create spectacular illusions that surpass the amateur magic used in years past. Dancers train for months to perform the complicated tricks. People and objects appear and disappear, fly and levitate and even the grownups wont be able to figure out how its done.
Most of the children in the audience dress in their holiday best. At intermission, they can have their pictures taken with characters from the ballet.
Tickets range from $25 to $110 and can be purchased at www.carolinaballet.com/the-nutcracker or by calling 919-719-0900. And if you cant go this weekend, dont worry. There are shows all through December in Raleighs Memorial Auditorium, at the Durham Performing Arts Center and at UNCs Memorial Hall.
Wizard of Oz on the big screen
Thanksgiving weekend is also a time many families head to the movies. If youre looking for something special, you can see The Wizard of Oz on a giant screen in Raleighs Meymandi Hall in the Progress Energy Center.
The film will be accompanied by the North Carolina Symphony playing the soundtrack live.
Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and on Saturday at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $20 to $60, or you can buy a family four-pack for $100. To purchase, go to www.ncsymphony.org.
Children are invited to come dressed as characters from the film. If they stop by the costume contest table, they will have a chance to win prizes, including concert tickets and books.
You can also donate nonperishable food items to the Inter-Faith Food Shuttles BackPack Buddies program, which provides backpacks full of food to children in need. For information on needed foods, go to www.foodshuttle.org/backpack-buddies.