Members of the Production Staff discuss the demands of their positions as they “create the magic” of a fairy tale on stage. Jane Green, Production Stage Manager, describes the complexity of running this show; Kate Share, Manager of Wardrobe, Wig, Make-up, and Costume Construction, talks about the elaborate costumes and some of the difficulties the dancers encounter in accommodating them; Ken Ryan, Master of Properties, reveals the “secrets” behind the golden slipper so important to this story.
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“Costumes have to tell you in a moment what that person is feeling, what they’re going through—what changes are happening,” said Costume Designer Martin Pakledinaz, when accepting a Tony Award for his designs for Broadway’s Thoroughly Modern Millie. Pakledinaz designed the costumes for Helgi Tomasson’s Nutcracker in 2004, and added beautiful detail to each garment. Why trouble with something that may never get noticed? Even if the audience can’t see the details, the costumes help a new set of dancers get into character each year. Below are close-up details from Nutcracker costumes, followed by dancers wearing them onstage.
In the Act I battle scene, the Stahlbaums’ fireplace (above, at right in the image) grows to 22 feet tall and 19 feet wide. For perspective, that’s the size of two San Francisco cable cars stacked on top of each other.
SF Ballet’s Nutcracker has more than 300 costumes—including three separate costumes for Uncle Drosselmeyer—for different casts.
Drosselmeyer makes the Stahlbaums’ Christmas tree grow to a height of 30 feet in less than two minutes. It would take a real fir tree 15 to 20 years to grow as high.
The Snow Queen’s embellished tutu took 80 hours to make, and we have five.
That’s a total of 400 hours spent creating one character’s costume.
In Act II, the giant Fabergé eggs in the Russian dance are nine feet tall. That’s 50 times larger than a real egg.
The ballerina doll in Act 1 has Nutcracker’s heaviest costume. Her tutu weighs18 pounds!