Coming Up: ‘Nutcracker on the Indian River’ is unique treat

Well on its way to becoming a beloved holiday tradition, Ballet Vero Beach’s “Nutcracker on the Indian River” is a truly unique production, and you’ll enrich your family holiday season by enjoying it together it this Sunday or Monday, Dec. 30 or 31, when it lights up the stage at the VBHS Performing Arts Center. The classic 1892 Christmas fairytale ballet, the story of a young girl and her beloved nutcracker doll, and the adventures they share one magical Christmas Eve, was lovingly adapted by Ballet Vero Beach founder and artistic director Adam Schnell. “Nutcracker on the Indian River” retains Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score, but now it takes place in 1919, the year Vero Beach was founded. Instead of the traditional “Clara,” Schnell calls his heroine “Marie,” returning to the name used in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s original tale. According to the ballet promo, Marie and her family take a holiday journey from New York to Florida, set in Fifth Avenue Mansions, Grand Central Station, and rail cars. Gone are the candyland characters; in their place are the wonderful denizens of the Indian River Lagoon (land crabs, sandhill cranes, manatees, river otters among them). If you saw the ballet’s premier last Christmas, you already know you’ll fall in love with them. Be assured that, though the time and place have changed, “the libretto and classical score retain all the whimsy and magic of the original ballet.” And the message of “Nutcracker on the Indian River” is more than simply a wonderful Christmas entertainment: With the help of the Indian River Land Trust, walk-through exhibits placed throughout the PAC “highlight the fragility and necessity of the Indian River Lagoon to our local way of life.” Times: Sunday, 8 p.m., Monday, 2 p.m. Tickets: $10 to $75. 772-905-2651.

Find more holiday wonderment at McKee Botanical Garden this weekend, Dec. 28-30. It’s McKee’s “Nights of Lights,” when the always magical Garden will be aglow with thousands upon thousands of twinkling lights, lanterns and special decorations, illuminating trees, waterfalls, streams and pathways. It’s truly breathtaking. Adding music to the holiday ambiance will be the impressive 1924 Wurlitzer Band Organ, plus, nothing says old-fashioned Christmas like a model train display, a holiday village and, of course, a visit from the Clauses. Take advantage of a rare opportunity to experience this beautiful garden at night, something special to share with your family during the holiday season. Time: 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Admission: Adults, $12; seniors, $11; children 3-12, $8. Members and under 3, free. 772-794-0601.

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