The Maryland Ballet will present 14 performances of "The Nutcracker" Dec. 11-22 at the Lyric Opera House with a full orchestra and four dancers from the American Ballet Theatre, the company announced last week.
The production is being staged with Baci Management Inc., a local concert presenter that last year brought the Donetsk Ballet's version of the beloved holiday classic to the Lyric while the Maryland Ballet presented its "Nutcracker" at Goucher College's Kraushaar Auditorium.
"We decided that instead of competing, let's make one fabulous production that's going to start a real tradition here," said Daniel Kane, the Maryland Ballet's executive director.
The Maryland Ballet's "Nutcracker" will star the ABT's Julie Kent -- who played opposite Mikhail Baryshnikov in the movie "Dancers" -- as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Other ABT's dancers will be Alexander Ritter, who will play the Prince, Veronica Lynn and Robert Conn. Auditions for the remaining cast of nearly 40 adult dancers will be held next month here and in New York and Philadelphia, with 45 area children also yet to be chosen.
The company, which had to cancel half of last season's subscription concerts because of financial difficulties, plans to stage "Swan Lake" at the Lyric in April but plans no additional subscription concerts.
"It's a real change of direction for the company," Mr. Kane said. "Hopefully, [these performances] are something we can build around for the future."
The company still has a $30,000 deficit, about half of what it owed last winter, but Mr. Kane said its financial situation was "on an upswing. There's a light at the end of the tunnel."
The ballet's "Nutcracker" will be performed Dec. 11-13 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec 14 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Dec. 17-20 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 21 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 22 at 2 p.m.
Ticket prices are $17.50 to $29.50 for adults, half-price for children. For information and tickets, call 889-3911.
The second annual black storytelling festival to raise money for public radio station WEAA-FM (88.9) will be held today at Morgan State University's McKeldin Center Ballroom.
"A Circle of Storytellers" will feature griot tales and poems by Mary Carter Smith, Jamal Koram, Bunjo and others. Family stories will be told at 3 p.m.; adult tales at 6 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults for one show and $8 for two shows; $3 for senior citizens and students and $2.50 for children. For more information, call 444-3564.
The following auditions are coming up:
*The Spotlighters Theatre, 817 St. Paul St., for "Three Men On a Horse," next Sunday and Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. Call 666-9200 or 592-7195.
*Fell's Point Corner Theatre, 251 S. Ann St., for "Closer Than Ever," Oct. 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m. Call 366-0396 or 276-7837.
*Pumpkin Theatre for "The Magic Fishbone," Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the Roland Park Public School, 5207 Roland Ave. Call 467-2755.
*The Canticle Singers of Baltimore, a women's chorus, Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. at the Central Presbyterian Church, 7308 York Road, Towson. Call 828-7922.