The Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre's annual holiday production, "The Nutcracker — A Tale from the Bayou," entered a new realm last year when the production moved to the Raising Cane’s River Center Arena.

The creative team rose to the challenge, coming up with new colorful and dynamic background projections, finding ways to create a full sound for the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra and more. 

This year, as "The Nutcracker" returns to the arena for performances at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Dec. 14-15, the company's directors are already hard at work to make the production even better, with creative new stagings and better visibility for the audience.

Accompanied by the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, BRBT also will be bringing new talent to the stage this year for the lead roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier. Dancing those roles will be Casey Dalton and Domenico Luciano, both former artists with the Colorado Ballet.

If you've never seen the Louisiana version of "The Nutcracker," you're in for a treat.

The setting is on a bayou, where a young girl named Maria listens to Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite" on a wind-up record player.

Maria is suddenly launched into a dazzling party scene, where she receives a nutcracker as a Christmas gift from her Uncle Drosselmeyer. Company dancers, along with some 300 area children, aid in the adventure, taking Maria on a magical ride to Oak Alley and the stained glass radiance of Baton Rouge's own castle, the Old State Capitol.

But is the magic real? The answer is found in a surprise ending.

The show was created in 1992 by BRBT's co-artistic directors Molly Buchmann and Sharon Mathews. They have filled the stage with dancers and special effects, and they make the audience part of the action when snow floats down on them during intermission.

Tickets are $25-$65 by visiting the Raising Cane's River Center Arena Box Office, calling (225) 766-8379 or visiting ticketmaster.com.