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The Washington Ballet’s annual holiday production of The Nutcracker opened last week to both acclaim and protest.  One audience member was particularly impressed: “It was the finest production of the Nutcracker ever performed,” said Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), adding, “My daughter is in it.”  The outgoing chair of the Senate Banking Committee has had more time on his hands since announcing he wouldn’t seek re-election in 2010, and so Dodd will be joining his daughter, who plays a snow angel, on stage for the Christmas Eve performance.

Local celebrity cameos, including Kojo Nnamdi and Fox News’ Griff Jenkins, are among the perks that separate the Washington Ballet’s Nutcracker from the 20-odd other Nutcrackers that saturate the holiday theater calendar every year, including out-of-town heavy hitters like the Moscow Ballet at Strathmore and the Joffrey Ballet at the Kennedy Center.  Another thing setting them apart?  Canned music.  For second year in a row, and only the second time in its 35 year history, the Washington Ballet has cut its live orchestra budget, leaving snow angels to dance to a piped-in recording of Tchaikovsky’s score.  The decision was a tough one, says Ballet management, necessitated by especially dire finances, but it’s one that has the Ballet’s musicians up in arms.  It’s also an unforeseen casualty of the D.C. City Council’s clampdown on earmarks, one of a number that includes the Gala Hispanic Theatre.  Read the full story on the Ballet here.