(File Photo) One of the cast members for last year’s performance of “The Nutcracker Suite” signs autographs for young visitors during the Sugarplum Tea held at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts. The event and the performance that follows have become a tradition for many families in Suffolk.

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‘Nutcracker,’ sugarplums and dance

Published 10:17pm Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tickets are still available for the chance to walk through a winter wonderland this weekend.

“The Nutcracker Suite” by Ballet Virginia International will be presented at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Both performances will be preceded by the Sugarplum Tea, which allows children of all ages to meet the performers and get their autographs, wander through the Sugarplum Forest in the transformed ballroom, have their photo taken with a nutcracker, make a keepsake picture frame and sample sweet treats.

“It’s a very glittery, glitzy, fantasy land, and we hope to put pleasant dreams in the children’s hearts and minds through the art,” said co-chairman Susan Rawls.

The event has become an annual tradition for many families, Rawls said. This is the seventh performance of “The Nutcracker Suite” with the Sugarplum Tea beforehand.

“We definitely have people that return because they want it to become a tradition every year,” Rawls said. “It certainly starts off the Christmas season. It’s all part of the festivities in downtown Suffolk.”

Ticket sales have been brisk for both events on both days, but there are still a few spots left, Rawls said.

Center director Jackie Cherry said the ballet is a great way to introduce children to stage performances.

“They really get to see a live performance, many of them for the first time, and they start the appreciation of art and dance and discipline,” Cherry said.

Meeting the performers at the Sugarplum Tea, likewise, helps children see that the performers are real people who developed their talent through hard work and discipline — and the beautiful decorations and sweets don’t hurt either, Cherry said.

“They get to see all the pretty things associated with the holidays,” she said, recalling her own holiday traditions as a child. “We want the same kind of tradition here in Suffolk.”

Tickets for the ballet are $25 for adults and $15 for youth. Tickets for the tea, which begins at 1:30 p.m. both days, are $15 for everyone.

To purchase tickets, visit www.suffolkcenter.org or call 923-2900.

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