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MBT brings magic to Ritz

It was a holiday classic with a COVID twist. A revised version of the classic A.E. Hoffman tale “The Nutcracker” came to life on the stage of Greenville’s Ritz Theatre last Saturday, with all present—dancers and audience members alike—wearing masks.

The appreciative audience with its limited seating capacity burst into spontaneous applause on several occasions during the Montgomery Ballet Theater (MBT) performance. This was its third presentation of “The Nutcracker” in the Camellia City, and its first on the smaller, more intimate stage of the Ritz.

While there were changes in the staging for the 2020 production to allow for more social distancing between the dancers in the company, a prologue by MBT artistic director Danny Mitsios helped bridge that gap and bring the audience straight into little Clara’s lively dream after being gifted with the handsome nutcracker by a mysterious toymaker.

Technical difficulties prevented the use of the projected backdrops seen in previous productions, but otherwise the costumes and choreography were much the same as audiences would have seen on stage at Montgomery’s Davis Theater, and at a reduced ticket price.

One addition to the production that reflected past MBT performances at the Greenville High School Auditorium: a group of Greenville Middle School cheerleaders were able to join in the magic and showcase their tumbling skills, much to the crowd’s delight.

“How nice to be able to see this right here in Greenville,” said Margo Fort following the production. “It’s not quite Christmas without ‘The Nutcracker!’”

Mitsios said that adjusting to a new theater is always a challenge, but he and the dance company welcome opportunities to bring the arts to small town audiences around Alabama.