[Linda Cunningham visited Bolshoi Brazil this summer, which has trained several of the guest artists.]
Cunningham added that there's "a real sense of beauty, when you stay true to the story and the score – these were real people."
In the role of Clara will be Tatiana Chen, 12, of Naperville, whom Cunningham calls "a beautiful dancer."
The production is a family affair. One of the performers appearing as Clara's brother Fritz is Athan Laden, whose actual grandparents, Dwight and Mary Avram of Wayne, portray the grandparents in the ballet. Their granddaughter Annabella Laden also appears.
Cunningham's husband, Kirk, will play the father of Clara and Fritz.
Jonathan Switzer of Maple Park, who trained in modern dance in college and helps manage a hospital health club, will portray the Mouse King as one of his roles, handling some of the major lifts, she said.
For part of the cute quotient in the ballet, Cunningham includes toddler cousins, including a 2-year-old from Maple Park. The production also draws participants from Elburn, Geneva, St. Charles, Bloomingdale, Batavia, Schaumburg, West Chicago, Wayne, Crystal Lake and Wheaton.
The Chancel Choir from St. Daniel the Prophet Church in Chicago will perform holiday music in the lobby before the show, and will sing from the pit for the ballet's snow scene.
A Sugar Plum Fairy Tea Party is planned from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Dec. 7 at The Hemmens' exhibition hall, which will be attended by the Sugar Plum Fairy and other characters.
The ballet sold out last year, so a third show has been added in the 1,200 seat theater.
If you go
WHAT: "The Nutcracker"
WHEN: 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 7 and 2 p.m. Dec. 8; Sugar Plum Fairy Tea Party at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 7
WHERE: Hemmens Cultural Center, 45 Symphony Way, Elgin
COST: $25 to $50 for the ballet and $20 for the tea party
INFO: cbcnutcracker.com, 630-893-1444