MAKING THE MAGIC
Based on E.T.A Hoffman’s dreamlike novella, The Nutcracker brings to life Clara’s magical journey filled with colorful characters, breathtaking costumes, and majestic scenery. A New England holiday tradition for over 50 years, this enchanting classical ballet—set to the beloved music of Tchaikovsky—continues to enthrall audiences of all ages.
Here are some little-known facts behind what makes Boston Ballet’s production of Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker “the granddaddy of them all.”
1. Approximately 150 dancers are involved in each performance. More than 240 children, all Boston Ballet School students, make up three casts of the production.
2. 182 costumes appear on stage in a single performance, and approximately 350 total costumes were made for multiple casts.
3. Over 2,000 yards of net and tulle and 200,000 jewels were used in creating the costumes. On several, such as the Nutcracker Prince and the Harlequin, the patterns are hand-painted to each dancer’s individual proportions.
4. Mother Ginger’s skirt is approximately 24 feet in circumference. Considered a prop, not a costume, it is stored backstage on a pulley system and lowered onto the dancer in the wings.
5. All of the sets were painted by hand and domestically made. Most of the scenery was built at Mystic Scenic Studio in Norwood. Most props were built in Boston Ballet’s 40,000-square-foot warehouse in Newburyport.
6. It takes about 1,896 stagehand hours over six days to set up the production at the Boston Opera House.
7. There are approximately 270 people backstage during performances including dancers, orchestra members, students, costume drapers, make-up and wig stylists, and stagehands coordinating scenery, lighting, and props.
8. To make pieces of scenery move at once, Boston Ballet’s technical staff built rigging and tracking systems on monstrous steel cages. During a performance, these systems are manipulated by a stagehand pulling a rope.
9. The effect of the magical snowfall is created with a piece of fabric between two of the theatre’s system pipes. On one side of the fabric there are holes, so the paper snow falls out as it shifts back and forth.
10. The iconic Christmas tree is also on one of theater’s system pipes, counter weighted so that when a stagehand lowers the weight with a rope, it goes up. The tree grows to 42 feet 6 inches tall, with 766 fiber optic points and 600 ornaments.