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'The Nutcracker' brings holiday magic to Memorial Hall

The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker is coming to Memorial Hall this December. Photo by Chris Walt Photography.

Memorial Hall will be filled with holiday magic this weekend. Carolina Performing Arts will host the Carolina Ballet’s production of "The Nutcracker" on Saturday and Sunday, complete with a magician. 

Each year, the Carolina Ballet brings its production of "The Nutcracker" to UNC for three festive and family-friendly shows. There will be two showings Saturday, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and one showing Sunday at 2 p.m.

Christina Rodriguez, a spokesperson for Carolina Performing Arts who grew up seeing "The Nutcracker," said the ballet adds a touch of nostalgia to the holiday season.

“It’s one of those stories that so many people have a personal connection to,” Rodriguez said. “It’s also nice for people who don’t have that connection, who are able now to start that tradition.”

Idalis Payne, patron services coordinator for CPA, said she began her "Nutcracker" tradition as a student by helping out Carolina Performing Arts and handing out candy canes before the show. She now works with Carolina Performing Arts to plan and execute events.

“It’s always nice to see the kids come in dressed up,” Payne said. “They get really excited when someone hands them a candy cane or when they’re able to take a photo by the tree.”

Memorial Hall will be decked in holiday decorations in the spirit of the production, complete with snow and a Christmas tree.

Megan Whitaker, artist services manager at Carolina Performing Arts, said she encourages all students to come to the production, but especially those who are new to arts on campus.

“'The Nutcracker' is such an easy and great introduction to what Carolina Performing Arts has to offer,” said Whitaker. “And the beautiful venue, Memorial Hall.”

As for the holiday magic, Whitaker said the performance will be enhanced by illusions and tricks performed by magician Rick Thomas.

Rodriguez said what makes the production so special is the fact that the Carolina Ballet is a local company.

“Every company puts their own spin on it, and the Carolina Ballet certainly does,” Rodriguez said. “They give it that extra magical quality.”

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