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Cincinnati Ballet's 'Nutcracker' To Air On WLWT-TV

Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet
"The Nutcracker at Home" premieres 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 22, on WLWT-TV.

For the first time, the Cincinnati Ballet's holiday classic The Nutcracker will be telecast on WLWT so "everyone has a front row seat" this year, says Cincinnati Ballet President and CEO Scott Altman.

The Nutcracker at Home will be taped next week at Music Hall by Emmy-winning director David Ashbrock for broadcast six times Christmas week on WLWT-TV (Channel 5) and its MeTV (Channel 5.2).

Credit Peter Mueller / Cincinnati Ballet
Cincinnati Ballet

Tchaikovsky's iconic score was recorded for the telecast by 35 Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra members last month under the direction of Carmon DeLeone, Cincinnati Ballet music director.

Despite dancers wearing masks and following socially distanced protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the audience will enjoy the up-close experience of The Nutcracker, says Victoria Morgan, artistic director.

"With eight cameras capturing moments from every angle, even on the stage itself, this is a truly unique experience. Those magical moments we share together each year remain in this production -- Clara and the Nutcracker Prince, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier, plus we've added a few surprises just for this broadcast version," Morgan says in WLWT-TV's announcement.

This production will introduce new choreography by Morgan with support from her artistic team – Cervilio Miguel Amador, Dale Shields, Suzette Boyer Webb and the main company dancers.

"Due to COVID-19, viewers across Greater Cincinnati will be able to enjoy this year's performance of The Nutcracker from the safety and comfort of their homes," says Branden Frantz, WLWT president and general manager, in the announcement. "I am incredibly proud of the collective teams at WLWT and Cincinnati Ballet for the vision and extraordinary efforts to make available to everyone a cherished holiday tradition at the end of this challenging year."

The one-hour broadcast will keep a cherished holiday tradition alive "during this unusual holiday season," Altman says. "The Nutcracker is a part of so many families' holiday memories … We are thrilled to partner with WLWT on this holiday gift to the community."

The ballet isn't the only Cincinnati arts institution turning to broadcasting during the pandemic. Playhouse in the Park is collaborating with WVXU-FM on Bruce Cromer's one-man A Christmas Carol: A Radio Play premiering Dec. 23. 

The Nutcracker at Home presented by Frisch's premieres 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 22, on WLWT-TV (Channel 5).

It repeats Christmas Eve at 7 p.m. on Channel 5 and 8 p.m. Christmas Eve on Channel 5.2.

On Christmas Day, the ballet replays at 5 a.m. and noon on Channel 5, and at 10 p.m. on Channel 5.2.

For Nutcracker fans outside Greater Cincinnati, the production will stream free from Dec. 26 through Jan. 3. The link will be announced Dec. 26 on the ballet's Facebook page and the ballet's website.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.