Courtesy of The Moscow Ballet

The Moscow Ballet's “Great Russian Nutcracker”

An Infinite Variety of ‘The Nutcracker’ Coming to Montgomery County Stages

It’s that magical time of the year when “The Nutcracker” seems to appear on every stage. Since the late 1960s, the two-act ballet has been among the American holiday season’s most popular entertainment offerings. The…

It’s that magical time of the year when “The Nutcracker” seems to appear on every stage. Since the late 1960s, the two-act ballet has been among the American holiday season’s most popular entertainment offerings.

The abundance will be reflected on Montgomery County stages with three different full-length productions, two traditional Russian-style, one of them a “mini;” one Cirque-style with orchestra, one hip hop, one puppet version and two mini versions tailored for youngsters. Two companies are even holding Nutcracker-themed tea parties!

Originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, “The Nutcracker” premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on Sunday, Dec.18, 1892. Its libretto was adapted from the E.T.A. Hoffmann story, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” via Alexandre Dumas’ adapted story, “The Nutcracker.”

With so many close-to-home options, everyone can take advantage of witnessing the spectacle of heroine Clara, her magician godfather, the battle between mice and toy soldiers, dancing snowflakes, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Land of the Sweets, all set to Tchaikovsky’s awesome music.

 

Music Center at Strathmore

Troupe Vertigo joins the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in presenting “Cirque Nutcracker.”
Troupe Vertigo joins the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in presenting “Cirque Nutcracker.” Courtesy of Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Cirque Nutcracker

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra & Troupe Vertigo

BSO Associate Conductor Nicholas Hersh, Troupe Vertigo

Date: 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13

Location: The Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda

Price: $35-$90

Tickets & Information: www.bsomusic.org, 1.877.BSO.1444

The awe-inspiring talents of Troupe Vertigo come to the concert hall as acrobats, contortionists, jugglers, strongmen and high-flying aerialists join the BSO for this spectacular holiday-themed show. Hersh leads the concert and Troupe Vertigo performs acrobatics, juggling and aerial feats while the orchestra plays Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker.”

Years Presented: The BSO has performed “Holiday Cirque” before, but this is its first time for “Cirque Nutcracker.” Troupe Vertigo premiered this program last year with the Phoenix Symphony.

Who is it for? All ages.

 

The Moscow Ballet brings its “Great Russian Nutcracker” to The Music Center at Strathmore for three shows.
The Moscow Ballet brings its “Great Russian Nutcracker” to The Music Center at Strathmore for three shows. Courtesy of The Moscow Ballet

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker

Executive Producers Mary and Akiva Talmi

Dates: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21, Thursday, Dec. 22 & Friday, Dec. 23

Location: The Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda

Price: $28-$68

Tickets & Information: http://www.nutcracker.com/your-city

The original, direct from Russia, has larger-than-life magical props, a 60-foot growing Christmas tree and spectacular Russian-made costumes and sets. The production features the Dove of Peace, exclusive to us. While the music remains the same, the act replaces the one where the principals travel to the Land of Sweets. Instead, they travel to the Land of Peace and Harmony where the ballerina and danseur perform the Dove of Peace Dance. Each dancer wears a 10-foot wing that, when combined in unison, creates a dove wing with a 20-foot span. The Dove of Peace debuted in 2012. The scene includes 12-foot-tall puppets that represent mythical creatures in different cultures.

How many dancers? 40 professional dancers

Years Presented: This is the 26th year the Great Russian Nutcracker is on tour. Three dance companies travel to the east, west and central areas of the country simultaneously where they present the holiday classic with a twist.

Who is it for? Adults and children.

 

“The Hip Hop Nutcracker” translates Tchaikovsky’s score into the language of hip-hop dance.
“The Hip Hop Nutcracker” translates Tchaikovsky’s score into the language of hip-hop dance. Photo Credit: Tim Norris

The Hip Hop Nutcracker

Choreographer Jennifer Weber

Dates: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18 & Wednesday, Dec. 19

Location: The Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda

Price: $30-$60

Tickets & Information: 301-581-5100, www.strathmore.org

“The Hip Hop Nutcracker” translates Tchaikovsky’s score into the language of hip-hop dance. A dozen all-star dancers, an on-stage DJ, an electric violinist and digital scenery bring the traditional story to life in present-day New York City, where all the classic characters are re-imagined. At its core, “The Hip Hop Nutcracker is a story about love, community, using art to inspire and the magic of the holiday season.

How many dancers? Level of proficiency? There are 12 dancers in the cast. All are Los Angeles-based professional dancers.

Years presented: This is the tour’s fourth year.

What’s new? Every year, we make updates to our choreography and add new elements. Hip hop is constantly changing and so we change as well.

Who is it for? This is a show for everyone. It is great for families, people who love hip hop, people who love the Tchaikovsky score and anyone looking for a new holiday tradition.

 

Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center

The Grand Finale of Akhmedova Ballet Academy’s “Nutcracker Night.”
The Grand Finale of Akhmedova Ballet Academy’s “Nutcracker Night.” Photo Credit: Paolo Galli

Nutcracker Night

Akhmedova Ballet Academy

Artistic Director & Choreographer Jacqueline Akhmedova

Date: 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15

Location: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center, 7995 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring

Price: $20, $15 senior & student, $10 group of 10-plus

Tickets & Information: https://akhmedovaballetnutcrackernight.eventbrite.com

Information: www.akhmedovaballet.org, 301-602-8222

“Nutcracker Night” is a “mini Nutcracker,” including the most famous dances. The second act is a compilation of classical, contemporary and character choreographies.

How many dancers? Level of proficiency? 18 dancers, ages 8 to19. All 10+-year-old Professional Training Program students, taught in the traditional Russian Vaganova system, train four to five hours a day, six days a week.

Years presented: 5

What’s new? Every year, we try to add new fresh ideas, choreography, props and costumes. We also bring this “Nutcracker” to many senior facilities as these seniors can often not attend our shows.

Who is it for? It is a great show for all ages, for audiences new to ballet and for educated ballet lovers. Students put on a performance that is comparable to company-level quality and standards.

 

MYB’s “The Mini-Nut”

Maryland Youth Ballet (MYB)

Dates: 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. Dec. 8 and 9

Location: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center, 7995 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring

Tickets: In advance: $23, $18 children; At the door $25, $20 children

Tickets & Information: www.marylandyouthballet.org, 301-608-2232

“The Mini-Nut” is a delightful abbreviated version of our classic, award-winning “The Nutcracker,” designed to introduce children to the magic of this family favorite. Only 55 minutes, the Mini-Nut is a perfect holiday mini-treat.

How many dancers? We have about 65 student dancers ranging in age from 10 to 18. Cast members are from MYB’s full-length “Nutcracker” production.

Years presented: This will be our ninth season.

Who is it for? The Mini-Nut” is designed for young children (and their parents) who want the magic of “The Nutcracker” in a condensed child-friendly version.

 

Montgomery College’s Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center

Clara and her Nutcracker perform in Metropolitan Ballet Theatre’s rendition of “The Nutcracker.”
Clara and her Nutcracker perform in Metropolitan Ballet Theatre’s rendition of “The Nutcracker.” Photo Credit: Goli Kaviani

The Nutcracker

Metropolitan Ballet Theatre (MBT)

Artistic Director Elizabeth Odell Catlett

Assistant Artistic Director Katerina Rodgaard

Dates: 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30 30th Anniversary Sneak Peek Dress Rehearsal Show; 1 & 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 & 8 and Sunday, Dec. 2 & 9

Location: Parilla Performing Arts Center, Montgomery College, 51 Mannakee St., Rockville

Price: In advance: $28, $24 children/students/seniors, group discounts available; at the door: $31, $27 children/students/seniors

Tickets & Information: www.mbtdance.org, 301-762-1757

How many dancers? Level of proficiency? 120 cast members, ages 7 to adult. Cast includes adult professional dancers, student dancers at all levels of MBT’s Academy including pre-professional students, as well as volunteer adults.

Years presented: MBT has been producing a full-length traditional production of “The Nutcracker” since 1989. All 30 years have been presented at Montgomery College’s Parilla Center. MBT’s Nutcracker was the first to be performed at the venue 30 years ago.

What’s new? A portion of the choreography and staging is changed each year to keep the tradition exciting and fresh for audiences. Over the years, the choreography has become more intricate and creative. There are some new set pieces and costumes, handmade by MBT’s team of volunteer costumers. To celebrate the 30th anniversary, this year’s celebrity guest Mother Gingers are all MBT alumni.

After 1 p.m. Dec. 1, 2 & 9 shows, MBT staff and cast engage the audience in “Patch Chats” that are geared to girl scouts and other young students. Participants learn about the history of “The Nutcracker” ballet and composition, meet some of the cast, ask questions and have a short photos/autograph session. MBT designs a new commemorative patch each year for girl scouts and others interested in collecting; this year’s patch features the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Who is it for? Perfect for a date night, a family outing, a special day out with grandparents, or a girl scout troop or youth group field trip.

 

The Nutcracker Suite

Metropolitan Ballet Theatre (MBT)

Artistic Director Elizabeth Odell Catlett

Assistant Artistic Director Katerina Rodgaard

Dates: 10 a.m. Saturdays, Dec. 1 & 8

Location: Parilla Performing Arts Center, Montgomery College, 51 Mannakee St., Rockville

Price: In advance: $23, $19 children/students/seniors, group discounts available. At the door: $26, $22 children/students/seniors.

Tickets & Information: www.mbtdance.org, 301-762-1757

This short-length version — less than 45 minutes with no intermission — of the classic holiday tale serves as an introduction to the theater and ballet, geared to young audiences.

How many cast members? Level of proficiency? 55 cast members including upper level and pre-professional students in MBT’s Academic Ballet Program and professionals.

Years Presented: Second year

Who is it for? Directed at slightly younger audiences, enabling little ones to experience the magic of the theater and “The Nutcracker” without the commitment of sitting through a full-length show.

 

SugarPlum Tea Parties

Metropolitan Ballet Theatre (MBT)

Artistic Director Elizabeth Odell Catlett

Assistant Artistic Director Katerina Rodgaard

Dates: 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16

Location: Metropolitan Ballet Theatre & Academy, 220 Perry Parkway, Suite 8, Gaithersburg

About: Meet the SugarPlum Fairy and other characters from “The Nutcracker.” Includes ballet class, craft, snack, sweet treat.

Price: $20 per child, free for parents

Tickets & Information: www.mbtdance.org or 301-762-1757

Who is for: Ages 3-7

Years presented: MBT has offered Tea Parties for the past 10 years for each major production.

 

The Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier from the 2017 performance of Maryland Youth Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.”
The Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier from the 2017 performance of Maryland Youth Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.” Photo Credit: Jeri Tidwell

The Nutcracker

Maryland Youth Ballet (MYB)

Artistic Director: Michelle Lees

Dates: 7 p.m. Fridays, Dec. 14 & 21; 1 & 5 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 15 & 22, Sunday, Dec. 16 & 23

Location: Parilla Performing Arts Center Montgomery College, 51 Mannakee St., Rockville

Price: In advance: $34, $27 child & senior; at the door: $38, $32 child & senior

Tickets & Information: www.marylandyouthballet.org,301-608-2232

Our “Nutcracker” is a professional quality production with leading roles danced by MYB’s top-level students.

How many dancers? Level of proficiency? We have 100 student dancers ranging in age from 10 to 18. MYB students are cast in “The Nutcracker” beginning at our Prep for Pointe level. Professional proficiency from the higher levels, and well-trained students from the lower levels.

Years presented: This will be our 29th season presenting the full-length “Nutcracker.”

What’s new? Over the years, we have made improvements to the scenery and costumes, but the quality and professional proficiency of the dancers for which MYB is known remains the same. This year, we are offering a Nutcracker VIP Experience where audience members are invited to a pre-performance reception, behind-the-scenes tour — and more!

Who is it for? Audiences of all ages.

 

Glen Echo Park’s Puppet Co. Playhouse

The Nutcracker and his troops protect Clara-Marie from the Mouse King and his minions in The Puppet Co. Playhouse’s “The Nutcracker.”
The Nutcracker and his troops protect Clara-Marie from the Mouse King and his minions in The Puppet Co. Playhouse’s “The Nutcracker.” Photo Credit: Christopher Piper

The Nutcracker

The Puppet Co. Playhouse

Director/choreographer Christopher Piper; original concept by Allan Stevens

Dates: To Dec. 30 11 a.m. Thursday & Friday; 11:30 a.m. & 1 p.m. Saturday & Sunday

Location: Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo

Price: $12

Tickets & Information: www.thepuppetco.org, 301-634-5380

The Puppet Co.’s production is 50 minutes long, with a cast of hand puppets, marionettes and larger-than-life costumed characters

Years presented: 30

What’s new? Costumes and sets are embellished upon every year. New cast, with the exception of Piper, who has performed in the show for 30 years.

Who is it for? Ages 5 to adult

 

Olney Theatre Center

In Olney Ballet Theatre’s Kingdom of the Sweets, Mo Liu performs with Leyla Akselioglu, Chloe Norris, Castille Dennison, Aliya Whaley, Caitlyn Snow and Brooke Gallagher.
In Olney Ballet Theatre’s Kingdom of the Sweets, Mo Liu performs with Leyla Akselioglu, Chloe Norris, Castille Dennison, Aliya Whaley, Caitlyn Snow and Brooke Gallagher. Photo Credit: Penny Lee

Mary Day’s The Nutcracker

Olney Ballet Theatre

Artistic Director Patricia Berrend

Dates: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6-8, 14, 15, 20-22; 1:30 p.m. Dec. 8, 9, 15, 22; 1 p.m. Dec. 16, 23, 24; 3:30 p.m. Dec. 16

Scout Night, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6, advance tickets $11.35 online, $12.20 at door, subject to availability; Senior Night, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20, $22.20 online for 65+, non-transferrable

Location: Olney Theatre Center Historic Stage, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney

Price: $27.20 to $42.20, group discount, www.olneyballet.org/tickets

Tickets & Information: info@olneyballettheatre.org, www.olneyballet.org, 240-342-6063

OBT’s Nutcracker is a classic, professional-level production. In 1961, the Washington School of Ballet premiered founder Mary Day’s “The Nutcracker” with the National Symphony Orchestra at Constitution Hall, starting a long-running tradition. The timeless production was presented by TWB for many years, and OBT is proud to preserve Day’s artistic legacy and introduce her classic vision to a new generation.

How many dancers? Levels of proficiency? About110 student dancers, ages 4 to18, from beginner through pre-professional level. Roughly 10 dancer parents and OBT alums perform as Party Guests; guest artists include Jessica Tretter (Rochester City Ballet) and Meghan Loman (Carolina Ballet Theatre) as Sugar Plum Fairy, with John Deming and Wyatt Pendleton (both of Rochester City Ballet) and Martin Justo (Carolina Ballet Theatre) as Cavalier.

Years presented: 12th season

What’s new? An increasing number of talented pre-professional dancers in solo roles including Snow Queen, Flower Queen, the Nutcracker and leads in various divertissement. Pre-professional dancers, ages12 to 18, master technically challenging roles with a professional level of artistry and with no compromise to Day’s original choreography and vision.

Who is it for? General audience of children through adults, wonderful for families.

Special Event: “Waltz of the Flowers” Tea Party, 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec.16, Norbeck Country Club Ballroom 17200 Cashell Road, Rockville: Share treats & crafts with Nutcracker dancers; take a picture with the Sugar Plum Fairy and dance with Clara. Tickets: $40 each / $350 for a table of 10 by Dec. 2 and $45 each on or after Dec. 3.

 

F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre

Rockville Civic Ballet will perform six shows of “The Nutcracker” at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre.
Rockville Civic Ballet will perform six shows of “The Nutcracker” at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre. Photo Credit: Steven J. Lunsford

The Nutcracker

Rockville Civic Ballet (RCB)

Artistic Director, Lead Choreographer & Principal Dancer: Eleanor R. Simpson

Assistant Director & Creative Associate: Erin Kwong

Dates: 2 & 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 & 8; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2 & 9

Location: Fitzgerald Theatre, 603 Edmonston Drive, Rockville

Price: $17, $13 children & seniors

Tickets & Information: www.rockvillemd.gov/theatre, 240-314-8690

One thing that makes RCB’s “The Nutcracker” so enjoyable to perform time and time again is that there are so many stories to tell through Clara’s journey to the Land of the Sweets. From having a richness of diversity in dancer experiences, we find different ways to make “The Nutcracker” novel and true each year.

How many dancers? Level of proficiency? The cast is more than 75 dancers strong. The RCB is committed to making ballet accessible for anyone with an interest and a willingness to work hard. Onstage you will see dancers from 7 years old to dancers in their 70s. All our dancers are skilled, whether near beginners or advanced, and “The Nutcracker” is cast to best show them off.

Years presented: The RCB began performing “The Nutcracker” in 1975; this will be our 44th production of the title.

What’s new? When we began, the set was minimal, and the cast was very small, made up mostly of the then-director Claudia Mangan’s family and friends. Since then, the production has only grown in scale and quality. Every year, we reshape the pieces to find what best suits our dancers and what we want to communicate.

Who is it for? Our production is very family-friendly, and we hope people of all ages and backgrounds will love seeing Clara on her magical journey.