From the cuter-than-puppies adorableness of dancing bonbons to the choreographic lyricism of the Sugar Plum Fairy, “The Nutcracker” keeps making holiday memories. Three major productions will be performed over Thanksgiving weekend. In Fresno, the longtime Valley Performing Arts Council production featuring the Sacramento Ballet and Fresno Ballet Theatre plays at the Saroyan Theatre, while the touring Moscow Ballet, a regular visitor through the years to the central San Joaquin Valley, makes a stop at Warnors Theatre in Fresno. One company offers a debut production: Visalia’s newly formed Theater Arts Alliance, which performs at the L.J. Williams Theatre. Fresno’s other big production, the Lively Arts Foundation version featuring Central California Ballet, performs Dec. 12 and 13 at the Saroyan. Here’s a roundup.
The Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker” is touring to 80 cities nationwide this holiday season. The production features more than 40 dancers, including principals Karyna Shatkovskaya and Vladimir Tkachenko, along with 10-foot-tall puppets and more than 200 costumes. A fun local connection: The Moscow Ballet picks a local musician in each city on its tour to accompany Shatkovskaya in a pre-curtain performance of Saint-Saëns’ “Dying Swan.” Cellist Olivia Lin, who plays with the Youth Orchestras of Fresno, is the designated “Musical Wunderkind.” Details: 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29, Warnors Theatre, 1400 Fulton St. www.tickets.warnors.org, 559-264-2848. $28-$102.
Theater Arts Alliance
Visalia’s newly founded Theater Arts Alliance kicks off its inaugural season with “The Nutcracker,” and with it artistic director Limuel Forgey hopes to offer an affordable family experience for audiences. “Beyond some professional soloists, local people play an active and prominent role,” Forgey says. “Because we are not bringing in an out-of-town company, it affords the audience competitive quality with affordability.” The cast includes LeAnn Medina as Clara, Roxie Lebenzon as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Rachel Thompson as the Snow Queen. The rest of the Theater Arts Alliance’s ambitious 2015-16 season lineup features “Madame Butterfly,” “Young Frankenstein,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast.” Details: 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27; and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28; L.J. Williams Theater, 1001 W. Main St., Visalia. www.theaterartsalliance.com, 800-838-3006. $25.
Valley Performing Arts Council
The Valley Performing Arts Council has perfected its “Nutcracker” formula: Bring in the professional Sacramento Ballet, with nearly 40 professional dancers and then augment the cast with a large number of local performers in Fresno Ballet Theatre. (In this year’s production, there are 149 students dancers and performers from 16 central San Joaquin Valley cities.) Jordan Wheaton plays Clara and Keira Fay Armstrong plays Fritz. Ticketholders can participate in Sugar Plum Story Time and visit the Kingdom of Sweet Café and The Nutcracker Boutique starting at noon before both performances. Details: 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28, and Sunday, Nov. 29; Saroyan Theatre, 700 M St. www.FresnoBallet.org, 559-442-5699. $29.50-$69.50.
Lively Arts Foundation
The Lively Arts Foundation December production of “The Nutcracker” boasts something new: the debut of a version by Shirley Winters, the production’s new artistic director, and Carla Lippert, the new co-director. (Diane Mosier, the Lively Arts artistic director, remains as the ballet’s producer.) Winters and Lippert are reverting to a more traditional version of the ballet. In past years, the Mouse Queen and Mouse King had beefed-up roles. Details: 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13; Saroyan Theatre, 700 M St. www.livelyarts.org, 800-745-3000, 877-608-5883. $30-$62.