Houston Ballet’s The Nutcracker

November 7, 2013

Press Releases

Houston Ballet’s The Nutcracker

Allison Miller and Artist of Houston Ballet

Allison Miller and Artist of Houston Ballet
Photo: Amitava Sarkar

Company Performs Beloved Holiday Production, Seen by Over One Million People Since Its Premiere in 1987

HOUSTON, TEXAS – From November 29 – December 29, 2013, Houston Ballet celebrates the holidays with Ben Stevenson’s breathtaking production of The Nutcracker, seen by over 1,000,000 people since its premiere 26 years ago.  The beloved ballet tells the story of a little girl named Clara who is given a magical nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve.  She encounters the frightful King Rat before embarking on a wondrous journey through the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets. Young and old alike will experience the many special effects, including the Christmas tree which “grows” to 40 feet, 200 pounds of “snow” falling during the snow scene, and the firing of cannon onstage.  Houston Ballet will give 34 performances of The Nutcracker, to a live orchestra, in the Brown Theater at Wortham Theater Center in downtown Houston.  Tickets may be purchased by calling 713-227-2787 or via the Houston Ballet website.

For over one hundred years, the story of the ballet has proven irresistible to both children and adults alike. Set in nineteenth-century Germany, the ballet opens at a Christmas party at which the mysterious Dr. Drosselmeyer gives his little niece Clara a magical toy that takes her on an unforgettable journey.  From the battle scene between the Rat King and the Nutcracker in the first act to the cooks who fly magically through the air in the second act, The Nutcracker is sure to enchant audiences of all ages.

Tickets are available at a discount for select performances of The Nutcracker, including evening performances on opening night Friday, November 29; Saturday, November 30; Sunday, December 1; Sunday, December 8; Thursday, December 12; Sunday, December 15; Tuesday, December 17; Wednesday, December 18; Thursday, December 19; and Friday, December 27.

The Nutcracker has a special place in Houston Ballet’s history as the first full-length work to enter Houston Ballet’s repertoire in a staging by Frederic Franklin, featuring scenery and costumes by the English designer Peter Farmer.  The company gave six performances of The Nutcracker in 1972 at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, and has danced the work each December without fail for the following 38 years.  In 1976, Houston Ballet presented the production with revised choreography by the company’s new artistic director Ben Stevenson. In 1987, the current production with designs by Desmond Heeley, lighting by Duane Schuler, and choreography by Mr. Stevenson was unveiled to a glowing critical response.

Today, the company gives 34 performances of  The Nutcracker at Wortham Theater Center, and the production plays a key role in Houston Ballet’s financial picture, drawing 73,294 (as of December 2012) theatergoers to Houston’s Theater District and bringing in over $4 million revenues in 2012.

Houston Ballet’s performances of The Nutcracker are generously underwritten by United, Apache, Houston Methodist, Shell Oil Company, Baker Botts L.L.P, Macy’s Foundation


The Story of The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker tells the story of Clara and her magical nutcracker doll.  One Christmas Eve, the mysterious Dr. Drosselmeyer arrives at the Stahlbaum family’s Christmas party and presents Clara with a special gift: a wooden nutcracker.  After the party, as the clock strikes midnight, Clara awakens to find the room filled with giant mice.  The nutcracker comes to her rescue and a fierce battle ensues as the nutcracker leads the toy soldiers against the mice and their leader, King Rat.  The nutcracker overcomes King Rat, and then is transformed into a handsome prince who takes Clara on a magical journey.

To the delight of Clara and the audience, the evening is filled with dance.  The Snow Queen leads eighteen snowflakes in a brilliant waltz in the Land of Snow, where the trees are laden with icicles.  Then the Nutcracker Prince takes Clara on a boat ride across the Lemonade Sea to the Kingdom of Sweets where they are greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy.  The Sugar Plum Fairy treats Clara to sweets and entertainment provided by the inhabitants of the kingdom: chocolate, a Spanish dance; coffee, an Arabian dance; and tea, a Chinese dance.  Next comes the comical Madame Bonbonaire whose huge skirt is filled with tiny clowns.  Then there is the Russian dance and the Waltz of the Flowers.   Finally, the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Nutcracker Prince dance a grand pas de deux.  As the celebration draws to a close, Clara becomes sleepy.  She awakens back in her bed, as the nutcracker salutes his little princess Clara.



WHAT:          THE NUTCRACKER (1987)

Music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

Choreography by Ben Stevenson, O.B.E.

Scenic and Costume Designs by Desmond Heeley

Original Lighting Design by Duane Schuler

Recreated Lighting Design by Christina R. Giannelli



Generously underwritten by: United, Apache, Houston Methodist, Shell Oil Company, Baker Botts L.L.P, Macy’s Foundation


A little girl named Clara receives a magical nutcracker on Christmas Eve, and sets out on a wondrous journey to the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets.  Featuring breathtaking scenery and costumes by Tony Award-winning designer Desmond Heeley, The Nutcracker is the perfect yuletide gift: the ideal means of introducing children to the power and beauty of classical dance, and a delightful way for the entire family to ring in the holiday season.



November 29 – December 29, 2013 At 7:30 p.m. November 29*, 30*,

and December 1*,7, 8*, 12*, 13, 14, 15*, 17*, 18*, 19*, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27*, 28


At 2:00 p.m. on November 30

and December 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 28, 29

* Indicates discounted performance.  


WHERE:       Brown Theater, Wortham Theater Center,  501 Texas Avenue in downtown Houston


TICKETS:     $32 – $125.  For tickets call (713) 227 2787 or 1 800 828 ARTS. Tickets are also available online (link above)  and Houston Ballet Box Office at Wortham Theater Center.

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