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The Chocolate Nutcracker offers a modern twist on the holiday classic.

courtesy of laverne reed productions

Holiday Treats

A multicultural “chocolate” version of The Nutcracker will be presented at Bob Carr this season, along with a traditional one. By Jay Boyar

When it comes to The Nutcracker, your choices this season include “original flavor” and “chocolate.”

The traditional Tchaikovsky version of the holiday classic will be performed this month by Orlando Ballet, with choreography by the group’s artistic director, Robert Hill. But if you’re in the mood for a different sort of Nutcracker, you can check out The Chocolate Nutcracker, a multicultural take on the show.

The basic story told in The Chocolate Nutcracker is similar to that of the original: A little girl falls asleep at Christmastime and has a strange dream.

But the chocolate version focuses on an African-American girl in the Harlem of the 1950s, played by Carolyn Mundy, an 8th grader at Orlando’s New School Preparatory. She dreams of traveling to such places as Africa, Haiti and Brazil, as well as to fanciful locations like Jazz Land, Gospel Land and the Land of Funk, where she encounters different music and dance styles that range from swing to hip-hop to samba.

“When I was 12 years old, I said, ‘When I grow up, I’m going to have my own Nutcracker, where there’s a handsome black prince and a black princess,’” says LaVerne Reed, the show’s New York-based creator, writer and artistic director. “Back in the ’50s, there was not that opportunity.”

The Chocolate Nutcracker tours the country each year and will make its fourth appearance in Orlando this month. Performing here will be members of Alvin Ailey, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Ballet Hispanico and Orlando Ballet, as well as about 225 local children including many inner-city kids. The cast also includes gospel singer Vickie Winans and former Miss America Ericka Dunlap.

“When kids can see someone who looks like them on stage,” says Reed, “it inspires them.”

The Chocolate Nutcracker. December 11 at 8 p.m. and December 12 at 3 p.m. $29.50-$49.50. Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, 401 W. Livingston St. 407-421-5453. Orlando Ballet’s Nutcracker. December 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m., December 19 at 2 p.m. $20-$75. Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, 800-745-3000.


Fireworks & Fountains

DECEMBER 31 Ring out the old and ring in the new at SeaWorld, where not all the bubbles are in the champagne. The celebration—called, reasonably enough, New Year’s Eve at SeaWorld—will include such continuing seasonal shows as The Polar Express Experience, Winter Wonderland on Ice, Clyde and Seamore’s Countdown to Christmas (featuring the park’s star sea lions), Sesame Street Christmas and Shamu Christmas Miracles. In addition, you can view the Sea of Trees (with 74 decorated trees), relax at an ice bar and experience special fountain-and-fireworks displays. Evening festivities, 5:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Price included in park admission. 7007 SeaWorld Drive. 407-351-3600.


Cho Tunes

DECEMBER 10 Margaret Cho probably picked up some fans with her jazzy gyrations on Dancing With the Stars. But comedy—including comic songs—is what’ll be on the bill when the Korean-American performer brings her Cho Dependent tour to Orlando. The title takes off from her new album, which includes humorous ditties about some of her favorite topics, including sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll and lice. (Lice?) “I want[ed] to create a new genre of music that is hilarious but also seriously good,” she has said. The results of her laugh-seeking labors are such songs as “Lesbian Escalation,” “Asian Adjacent” and “Calling in Stoned,” as well as several selections whose titles—alas!—cannot be printed here. 8 p.m. $29.50-$55. Hard Rock Live, Universal Studios CityWalk, 6050 Universal Blvd. 407-351-5483.,


The Art of Sex

DECEMBER 18-JUNE 5, 2011 Gender roles: You can’t live with ’em; you can’t live without ’em. But at the very least you can try to understand ’em. That’s the thought behind XX-XY/Gender Representation in Art, a new show at Orlando Museum of Art. Drawing heavily on the museum’s permanent collection, the exhibition features works by such artists as Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, Lesley Dill and Sally Mann, and explores such gender-related themes as “domesticity,” “magnetism,” “power” and “enhancements.” [Free lectures about the exhibit and related matters will be offered by UCF professors at the museum at 1:30 p.m. on the second Sunday of the month beginning next month.] Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday-Sunday noon-4 p.m. $8, $7 seniors, $5 children. 2416 N. Mills Ave. 407-896-4231.


 Quick Hits

• December 2-5 Female golfers will compete for $1.5 million at the LPGA Tour Championship at Grand Cypress Golf Club.
• December 3-10 The sixth annual Orlando Puppet Festival kicks into high gear this month with events at various locations.
• December 4-5 Entering its 19th year at Enzian Theater, the Brouhaha Film & Video Showcase presents locally produced films and videos.
• December 12 Laser displays will flood Amway Center as the Trans-Siberian Orchestra offers its distinctive brand of progressive rock.
• December 17-18 ’Tis the season for Michael Andrew’s Holiday Spectacular, with his hip, rat-pack take on Christmas songs at The Plaza Theatre.

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