Indiana Ballet Theatre is set to welcome dance lovers to a world of magical toys and winter wonderment with its annual production of "The Nutcracker."
The ballet company will present "The Nutcracker" at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville.
"This is a very family-oriented show. It starts the season off with imagination, dreams and kids," said Gloria Tuohy, founder and artistic director of Indiana Ballet Theatre.
Tuohy said the company has been celebrating the season with "The Nutcracker" for 16 years, with 15 of them being at the Star Plaza Theatre.
"We usually audition (people) for the show early in September and then start rehearsals right away," she said. The cast, this year, features 160 performers.
"We've had as low as 125 people but we usually have 140 to 150, Touhy said, adding this year is a bit of a record breaker.
Indiana Ballet Theatre operates both a ballet company and a school. In the holiday show, six dancers are featured from the actual company with 40 members from its training company. Touhy said the rest of the cast is made up of children and adults from the community.
In addition to "The Nutcracker," Indiana Ballet Theatre presents a spring ballet, another show with a "Kaleidoscope" theme in February and additional outreach productions.
Touhy's dance school currently has two locations - in DeMotte and Merrillville. The company founder said she's thrilled with how the company and the school have grown through the years from an entity that really started "with 20 students in my basement" to where it is today.
"I want to offer great opportunities in culture," Tuohy said. "It's all about giving quality education and productions to the community."
FYI: "The Nutcracker" will be performed at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at Star Plaza Theatre, Interstate 65 and U.S. Highway 30, Merrillville. Tickets are $14 for the 10 a.m. show and $25 for adult tickets for the 7 p.m. show. Tickets for senior citizens and children are $20 for the 7 p.m. show. Call (219) 755-4444 or (800) 745-3000.