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Atlanta Ballet Calls on Master Magician for 'Nutcracker' Effects

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Atlanta Ballet Calls on Master Magician for 'Nutcracker' Effects

With effects by Master Illusionist Drew Thomas, The Atlanta Ballet’s upcoming staging of ‘The Nutcracker’ in December 2012 will include even more holiday magic than ever before.

Courtesy of The Atlanta Ballet

The Atlanta Ballet will give new meaning to the phrase “holiday magic” this season, as Artistic Director John McFall ups the ante by adding special effects to the company’s annual staging of The Nutcracker from master illusionist Drew Thomas (a popular entertainer and magician who rocketed to fame as an audience favorite on TV’s “America’s Got Talent”). Thomas’s effects will add a special new level of flash and dazzle to the company’s production of The Nutcracker, its 53rd, which will run from December 7-26, 2012, at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in downtown Atlanta, Georgia.

As recreated by The Atlanta Ballet, The Nutcracker is a lovely, whimsical holiday tale that follows young Marya’s unbelievable adventures with her handsome Nutcracker Prince in a staging that will now offer even more thrills and surprises as Thomas deftly introduces new illusions and special effects.

Since recreating Nutcracker in 1995, McFall has updated the production every year to keep it vibrant and fresh. For the December 2012 run of the show, McFall has completely reimagined Act 1, including the famous “party scene,” with new choreography, new characters and, of course, more magic. McFall has also invited the students from the Atlanta Chinese Dance Company back after a three-year hiatus to perform the “Chinese variation” in Act 2.

“For five decades now, Atlanta Ballet has been presenting Nutcracker, and we’ve become a holiday tradition for many families in Atlanta,” said McFall in a recent announcement about the latest production. “It’s an honor, but also a great responsibility. Each year we want to make sure we preserve the tradition, but also keep the magic and the mystery alive. We are thoughtful about each change we make and confident that it will ultimately make for a more enchanting experience. The decision to add real magic and illusions was an easy one. Drew is an amazing talent and with him we’ve been able to let our imaginations run wild and take Nutcracker to the next level.”

A Magical Alliance
It’s interesting to note that this isn’t the duo’s first collaboration on The Nutcracker.

Drew Thomas actually began his professional career with McFall more than 20 years ago. McFall, who was then artistic director at Columbus, Ohio’s Ballet Met, gave Thomas his first gig right out of high school, commissioning him to create the magic for the company’s Nutcracker production over two decades back.

Since then, Thomas has brought his magical expertise and trickery to companies such as Six Flags, Sea World, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and the NBA’s Orlando Magic, earning the praise of many industry insiders, including Jim Timon, VP of Entertainment at Universal Studios Orlando, who hailed Thomas as "a rare creative and extraordinary talent." He was most recently a finalist on NBC’s hit reality-TV series “America’s Got Talent,” becoming one of the show’s most popular acts.

Thomas has now reunited with McFall once more, in order to pull even more tricks and surprises out of Herr Drosselmeyer’s magic bag for 2012’s Atlanta holiday mainstay.

Maintaining a Tradition While Keeping it Fresh
What won’t change in this year’s Nutcracker production is the appearance of more than 250 Atlanta-area schoolchildren performing alongside the professional company, offering most of the kids their first chance to experience the magic of performing on the Fox Theatre stage. The Atlanta Ballet Orchestra and the Georgia Youth Choir will also return for all performances.

Presented by Belk, Inc., Atlanta Ballet’s The Nutcracker will run for 20 performances from December 7 – 26 at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. Tickets start as low as $20 and are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased by phone at 855-ATL-TIXX, in person at the Fox Theatre Box Office and the Atlanta Ballet Box Office, or online at http://www.atlantaballet.com. For groups of ten or more, call Atlanta Ballet Group Sales at 404-873-5811 x 207.

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