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Watch The Nutcracker As Only Key West Does It

A classic holiday ballet, re-imagined to celebrate Key West’s coral reef environment, seafaring heritage and even its free-roaming roosters, has debuted in the subtropical island city.

“Nutcracker Key West” stars 18 professional dancers alongside some 80 Florida Keys children and adults. Together they bring the timeless story to life onstage at the Tennessee Williams Theatre.

Opening in a Key West setting circa 1864, the production transforms the tale of young Clara’s holiday dream into an engaging island fantasy.

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Characters include dancing snowy egrets, phosphorescent sea anemones, a flock of appealing baby chickens, the breathtaking Sea Star Mermaid and a nutcracker whose headdress features a conch (pronounced “KONK”) shell, the best-known symbol of the Florida Keys.

“’Nutcracker Key West’ captures hundreds of years of creativity from the island culture, from the reef to garden parties to the Navy being here. It just encapsulates all of that, and presents back to Key West a reflection of itself,” said Matthew Rawls, the production’s artistic director.

Among highlight sequences are a dream battle between the nutcracker and the Rooster King and a coral reef scene where Clara and her nutcracker-come-to-life are entertained by a dance of tumbling shrimp and colorful reef fish. All help evolve the well-loved ballet into a representation of Key West’s heritage and vibrant underwater realm.

“I like the second half the best because it’s almost completely underwater and it represents Key West the most,” said Reese Kight, a 14-year-old Key West dancer performing the role of Clara. “The whole theme of Key West is underwater and beach themed, and that’s the whole second act.”

Evening and matinee performances of “Nutcracker Key West” continue through Sunday, Sunday, Dec. 11.