- Associated Press - Thursday, December 15, 2016

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Even after the Nutcracker’s mask and the Sugar Plum Fairy’s tutu were stolen, a Rhode Island ballet company is going on with the show with the help of ballet companies from across the country.

Festival Ballet Providence Artistic Director Misha Djuric said he would have had the dancers perform in street clothes if he had to, because he didn’t want the theft to ruin the holiday tradition for the community or for the dancers and children who have spent long hours rehearsing for “The Nutcracker.”

Djuric discovered in November that 57 costumes and costume parts were missing from a warehouse in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. He was most shocked that the angel’s harps and wings used by children were gone.

“Can you imagine my kids going on stage without the wings,” he said. “I will cry.”

The theft jeopardized both the production and the ballet company’s future. The profitable show introduces the company to new patrons, who then go to other shows throughout the year.

Djuric was planning to call ballet companies nationwide that had already finished their “Nutcracker” performances so he could borrow costumes.

That’s when ballet companies reached out to him offering help. Ensembles in Ohio, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois, Missouri, Alabama, New York and New Hampshire sent costumes and props to Providence, with many charging only a minimal rental fee for shipping, warehouse restocking and costume cleaning.

Boyko Dossev, a 35-year-old dancer in the Providence company, said he and other dancers were sad, shocked and very scared when the theft was discovered, but now they’re amazed at the kindness and love that was shown.

“It teaches us. We have to be kind. What we need right now, it’s kindness,” he said. “I think that is the message. That’s how we get through unfortunate experiences.”

Police are investigating the theft. The handmade costumes embellished with Swarovski crystals are valued at about $30,000. The company estimates replacing them would cost double, since some costumes are older and individual pieces can’t be replaced without buying a set.

Sami Shorr, a 12-year-old in the performance, said she wants to ask the thief, or thieves, why they stole the harps.

“We’ve been working really hard on this,” she said. “If they had to cancel it, it would be kind of all for nothing.”

The Festival Ballet Providence’s annual production of “The Nutcracker” opens Friday at the Providence Performing Arts Center.

Djuric is calling the show “an American production,” since so many contributed.

“All of us were very touched and taken by it,” Djuric said. “A miracle happened.”

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