KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Audiences can discover the seafaring heritage and vibrant coral reef environment of the Florida Keys, blended with a sizeable helping of heartfelt holiday spirit, during performances of “Nutcracker Key West” in the subtropical island city. The Keys version of the classic seasonal ballet is set to begin a nine-show run Friday, Dec. 7.
The production gives the well-known storyline of “The Nutcracker” a unique twist, transforming the tale of young Clara’s dreamlike visit to the land of the Sugarplum Fairy into a celebration of Key West’s culture, traditions and underwater wonders.
“Nutcracker Key West” stars 15 professional dancers from around the world alongside 60 Keys children and other local performers. Together they bring the timeless story to life onstage at the Tennessee Williams Theatre, 5901 College Road on the campus of Florida Keys Community College.
The cast is directed by classically trained dancer Joyce Stahl, a Key West resident who conceived and created the production after performing for 38 years with New Jersey’s American Repertory Ballet.
Standout dance sequences including a dream battle where toy sailors protect Clara from the Rooster King, recalling Key West’s free-range chicken population. A scene set on the Keys’ living coral reef features young children costumed as tumbling pink shrimp in King Neptune’s court, colorful angelfish and a school of sparkling red snapper.
The storyline also includes imagery drawn from the history of the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha, shipwrecked off Key West in 1622 and humorously dubbed “Atoshu” in the ballet.
A holiday tradition that Key West residents share with visitors, “Nutcracker Key West” is a biennial production. As well as the talented cast, it incorporates elaborate sets and dazzling museum-quality costumes designed by Stahl.
Show dates continue through Dec. 16 and audiences can choose from evening and matinee performances. Tickets can be purchased online at keystix.ticketforce.com/ or by calling 305-295-7676.
Event information: nutcrackerkeywest.com
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY