Five patients from Children’s Hospital Colorado will get to forget about doctors, tests and health concerns for awhile and soak up the spotlight.

This year’s “The Nutcracker,” by the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, Oklahoma City Ballet and Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale, will introduce the program Nutcracker for a Day. Each of the five performances at Pikes Peak Center will feature one of five girls, ages 5 to 14, who will be whisked backstage, costumed and guided on stage during the first act’s party scene. They won’t dance, but they will interact with the professional dancers. Tchaikovsky’s popular ballet runs Friday through Sunday.

Britany Mitchell’s 5-year-old daughter, Katianna Mitchell, suffered a stroke shortly after birth that prompted cerebral palsy and weakness in her right side. Katianna will star in the 7 p.m. Friday performance.

“I’m grateful that they’re allowing my child to shine,” Mitchell said. “It means the world to her and to our family because she’s our miracle baby. We had a 2 percent chance of her getting to age 5, so for her to be 5 and getting this opportunity, it’s a blessing that we’ll forever be thankful for.”

Other young dancers from the Pikes Peak region also will get their chance to be in the spotlight and to learn from the professional troupe. Every August, the philharmonic holds an audition for the holiday show. About 100 children and teens show up.

“We cast as many as possible,” said orchestra President and CEO Nathan Newbrough. “It’s pretty rare to turn someone away, though it does happen. But as long as they can be poised and follow instructions, we can find a place for them.”

Local dance instructors hold weekly rehearsals throughout the fall to prepare the youngsters. And on the Tuesday before opening day Friday, all the parties come together to practice, including the Oklahoma troupe and the orchestra.

The Nutcracker resonates with people, Newbrough said. “Some view it as an escape. And it’s so well-identified with Christmas that it’s the quintessential way for families to come out and kick off the season.”

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