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Best bets: 'Nutcracker' gets Duluth-y

This week's top picks in local arts and entertainment.

Sean M. Sullivan rehearses the scene where he tells gathered children the story of how he once met Clara, who owns the beloved Nutcracker, in the Minnesota Ballet's 2020 production of "The Nutcracker." Steve Kuchera / 2020 file / Duluth News Tribune

'Nutcracker' now with Duluth vibes

Last year, under new leadership and in the creative-staging phase of the pandemic, the Minnesota Ballet created a made-for-TV “Nutcracker” that incorporated local landmarks. This year — with the help of a 15-foot train — the Duluth-centric holiday performance gets its premiere at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. “The Nutcracker: A Duluth Tale,” choreographed by Karl von Rabeanu, is at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Symphony Hall.

In von Rabenau’s take, Clara, Fritz and their mother board a train and along the way encounter a magician, a snowball fight, lumberjacks, farm sisters, a sailor and his girlfriend and more. Also: waltzing flowers and the duet with the Sugar Plum Fairy and Prince. Tickets at .

Huckfelt heads West

David Huckfelt plays Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, at The West Theatre in Duluth. Contributed /

Minneapolis singer-songwriter David Huckfelt, who was last heard in Duluth during the August “Water is Life: Stop Line 3” concert at Bayfront Festival park, returns with a concert at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at The West Theatre in Duluth. Also playing: Lanue, the sweet and lush sounds of Sarah Krueger.


Huckfelt released “Room Enough, Time Enough,” described as “folk, protest and Native Americana songs,” in February and it’s spacious and desert-dusty, with guest artists like Greg Brown, Pieta Brown, Keith Secola, Dave Simonett and Quitlman, who was also in the lineup at Bayfront in August.

Into the arena

Arena Dances performs Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Contributed / UMD
Photo by Awa Mally

Twin Cities-based company Arena Dances, the long-running dance company of choreographer Mathew Jaczewski, brings its “Hold My Hand” to the Marshall Performing Arts Center at the University of Minnesota Duluth for a single performance: 7:30 p.m. Thursday on the mainstage. The performances is described as having “viscerally honest choreography with politically poignant repertoire.”

Among the five featured works is “Run With Me,” an older piece reworked for today, that was described by dance writer Lightsey Darst as a “vivid whirl, densely layered and evocative … with moments of crystalline clarity. Melancholic, romantic, dramatic and lovely.”

For the love of Lucy

"Being the Ricardos" opens at Zinema 2 on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021. Contributed / Amazon Studios

Next up for Duluth's Zinema 2, which is again hosting in-person movies: “Being the Ricardos,” a bio pic about Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) — stars of “I Love Lucy.”


The movie, directed by Aaron Sorkin, is described as being about the couple’s “complex romantic and professional relationship.” It covers a particularly high-drama week in their lives and goes both on and off-camera with the duo.

“Being the Ricardos” opens Friday at Zinema 2.

Bold and brassy

"TubaChristmas" is Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, at First Lutheran Church in Duluth. Contributed / Karen Anderson

Celebrate the sounds of the season with a large-scale brass event billed as "TubaChristmas 2021." The world-wide event is a gathering of multi-generational tuba and euphonium players. The first TubaChristmas was in 1974 and player Harvey Phillips paid tribute to his mentor, William J. Bell, with additional Christmas music. Now it’s caught on around the world and this is the second time it is being held in Duluth.

Tracey Gibbens is directing the free concert, which is at 4 p.m. Saturday at First Lutheran Church. The University of Minnesota Duluth’s Low Brass Ensembles will also perform.

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