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The Nutcracker 

When: Dec. 22-23, 2 & 7 p.m. and Sat., Dec. 24, 11 a.m. 2011
Price: $15-$59.50
OaklandBallet.org

Sugar and spice reign alongside the Snow Queen in Oakland Ballet's Nutcracker, returning to the Paramount Theatre (2025 Broadway, Oakland) Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 22-24. As heartwarming as cocoa and as delightful as a lollipop, artistic director Graham Lustig's full-length edition replaces the traditional Nutcracker that entertained a generation of Oaklanders; judging by the enthusiasm that greeted last year's premiere, East Bay kids and grownups are tickled pink by this version's Viennese elegance, uplifting good cheer, and endearing surprises. Michael Morgan conducts the Oakland East Bay Symphony in Tchaikovsky's rich score, with choral performances by Mt. Eden High School Women's Ensemble and PacificBoychoirAcademy. Sweet Dreams parties follow the 2 p.m. matinees (separate ticket; $12). Thu.-Fri. 2 p.m., 7 p.m.; Sat. 11 a.m.; $20-$59, or donate a canned food item for $5 off. 1-800-745-3000 or OaklandBallet.org

— Claudia Bauer

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