Lawrence Arts Center’s ‘The Nutcracker: A Kansas Ballet’ returns this week with livestreaming options

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The Lawrence Art Center’s “The Nutcracker: A Kansas Ballet,” a Kansas-themed spinoff of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s original story, returns Thursday.


Ric Averill and Deb Bettinger co-created the adaptation in 2002, and it has been a Lawrence favorite ever since. 

A Kansas Ballet” retains the original story: Clara experiences a string of fantastical dreams following a Christmas party. Some variations include the timeline and setting — the show takes place on Christmas 1861 amid the Civil War, and the holiday party is in a barn. The production also integrates regional historical figures such as John Brown, and Kansas’ first governor, Charles Robinson, and his wife, Sara. 

Further driving home the Kansas theme, young dancers will portray sprouting sunflowers during the “Waltz of the Flowers.” And the orchestra will include mandolins in order to provide a folk sound to the music. 

Young students at the Lawrence Arts Center will scamper as mice and posture as grasshoppers alongside more professional dancers and adult performers. The cast includes more than 150 people.

The show runs from Thursday, Dec. 8 through Sunday, Dec. 11, with five performances. Almost all the in-person tickets were sold out by Monday, but single-show livestream tickets are available for $30; all-access livestream tickets are available for $60. 

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Chansi Long (she/her) reported for The Lawrence Times from July 2022 through August 2023. Read more of her work for the Times here.

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