Nutcracker Word Games

Happy Thanksgiving eve! As you’re waiting for the feast to begin with friends and family, how about some Nutcracker fun in the shape of a word game? We’ve got two different stories, so pick your favorite, chose your partner, and get word-smithing!

Click the images for printable versions, and send us your silly stories via social media!






Purchase Nutcracker tickets

Header image: SF Ballet in Tomasson’s Nutcracker // © Erik Tomasson

Nutcracker’s Heaviest Tutu

Martin Pakledinaz designed the more than 40 tutus that appear in San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker, from the Snowflakes’ winter whites to the Flowers’ pastel hues. One of these outranks the rest, however–at least in terms of weight. The “mechanical” ballerina doll that Drosselmeyer brings to the Stahlbaums’ party in Act 1 wears Nutcracker’s heaviest tutu. Her tutu weighs 18 pounds! 


Purchase Nutcracker tickets

Header image: SF Ballet in Tomasson’s Nutcracker // © Erik Tomasson

The Soldiers of Nutcracker

In Clara’s dream, an army of toy soldiers come to life to aid the Nutcracker in his battle with the King of the Mice. It’s a well-organized army made up of four different ranks: officers, infantry, artillery, and cavalry. Both their choreography and their uniform (costume) illuminate their distinctive ranks.

San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson's Nutcracker. (© Erik Tomasson)
San Francisco Ballet School students as officers in Tomasson’s Nutcracker // © Erik Tomasson

Two officers lead the charge, marching neatly out of the toy cabinet carrying a flag and a drum. You can tell their rank by their high boots, their black helmets and sash, and the embellishment on their coats.

San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson's Nutcracker // © Erik Tomasson
San Francisco Ballet School students as infantry in Tomasson’s Nutcracker // © Erik Tomasson

The infantry marches in perfect unity in striped trousers. Each is armed with a (wooden) rifle. This group handles most of the actual fighting with the mice. Their helmets are blue, with red-and-white tassels.

San Francisco Ballet School students as artillery in Tomasson's Nutcracker. (© Erik Tomasson)
San Francisco Ballet School students as artillery in Tomasson’s Nutcracker. (© Erik Tomasson)

When the situation looks dire, the artillery brings out the big gun (literally). Their uniforms are similar to the officers’, but with a pink sash and longer red-and-white streamers on their helmets.

San Francisco Ballet School students as artillery in Tomasson's Nutcracker. (© Erik Tomasson)
San Francisco Ballet School students as artillery in Tomasson’s Nutcracker.
(© Erik Tomasson)

The cavalry (at right in the above photo) charges in on horseback, with swords raised, to battle the mice in hand-to-hand combat.


Purchase Nutcracker tickets

Header image: SF Ballet in Tomasson’s Nutcracker // © Erik Tomasson

The Changing Look of Nutcracker: Program Books Over 75 Years

San Francisco Ballet danced America’s first performance of the complete Nutcracker at the War Memorial Opera House on December 24, 1944. The first production was choreographed by Willam Christensen; artist Antonio Sotomayor designed the sets and Russell Hartley (who also created the role of Mother Buffoon) created the costumes. As the production premiered during World War II, the program book, below, includes advertisements for War Bonds and a note about air raid precautions in the Opera House. On the cover of the first program book is Gisella Caccialanza Christensen, who danced the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

In 1954, Willam’s brother Lew, who succeeded Willam as SF Ballet’s director, created a new production designed by award-winning children’s book illustrator Leonard Weisgard. This more elaborate production was set in the American Victorian style of the 1850s. The program book covers evolved with the production, incorporating Weisgard’s colorful designs and a black-and-white image from the production.

1944 Holiday Ballet Festival program book cover
1944 Holiday Ballet Festival program book cover
1954 Nutcracker program book cover featuring design by Leonard Weisgard.
1954 Nutcracker program book cover featuring design by Leonard Weisgard.
1957 Nutcracker program book cover. Photograph by Emilie Romaine.
1957 Nutcracker program book cover. Photograph by Emilie Romaine.
1958 Christmas Festival program book cover
1958 Christmas Festival program book cover

Previous
Next

The 1960s

The 1960s Nutcracker program book cover designs are characterized by deeply saturated color. As the decade progresses, the quaint, old-fashioned look of the design veers into Nutcracker psychedelia (never thought you’d hear those two words together, did you?). The first Lew Christensen Nutcracker played (from 1954–66) to more than 400,000 people. In 1967, Lew worked with designer Robert O’Hearn to create a lavish new production. With more than 250 costumes and a mechanized and electric Christmas tree, the O’Hearn production celebrated the 75th anniversary of Nutcracker‘s premiere in Russia. It took three years to raise the $130,000 for the sets and costumes.

1962 Nutcracker program book cover .
1962 Nutcracker program book cover .
1964 Nutcracker program book
1964 Nutcracker program book
1966 Nutcracker program book cover
1966 Nutcracker program book cover
1967 Nutcracker program book cover
1967 Nutcracker program book cover
1969 Nutcracker program book cover
1969 Nutcracker program book cover

Previous
Next

The 1970s

The 1970s program book covers (all of the O’Hearn production) featured a mix of photography and illustrations, and even sculpture of the characters on the covers of the Nutcracker program books. Notice the characters that make up the sleeping child’s hair on the 1973 cover!

1970 Nutcracker program book cover
1970 Nutcracker program book cover
1971 Nutcracker program book cover
1971 Nutcracker program book cover
1973 Nutcracker program book cover, with design by Nick Sidjakov
1973 Nutcracker program book cover, with design by Nick Sidjakov
1977 Nutcracker promotional poster with artwork by Ann Thompson
1977 Nutcracker promotional poster with artwork by Ann Thompson
1978 Nutcracker program book cover with design and sculpture by Norman Orr and photography by William Arbogast
1978 Nutcracker program book cover with design and sculpture by Norman Orr and photography by William Arbogast

Previous
Next

The 1980s

In 1980 Robert O’Hearn created new sets for the second act candy kingdom, and in 1982, fresh Flower costumes were designed. The 1980s program book covers were heralded by the advent of color photographs on the covers. In 1986, a new production was unveiled, designed by Jose Varona and featuring choreography by Lew Christensen and new artistic director Helgi Tomasson.

1980 Nutcracker program book cover with Betsy Erickson and Jim Sohm as Queen and King of the Snow. Photo by Lloyd Englert.
1980 Nutcracker program book cover with Betsy Erickson and Jim Sohm as Queen and King of the Snow. Photo by Lloyd Englert.
1983 Nutcracker program book cover featuring Tracy-Kai Maier and Alexander Topciy in a photo by William Acheson
1983 Nutcracker program book cover featuring Tracy-Kai Maier and Alexander Topciy in a photo by William Acheson
1984 Nutcracker program book with photo by Lloyd Englert
1984 Nutcracker program book with photo by Lloyd Englert
1985 Nutcracker program book cover with Tracy-Kai Maier as the Sugar Plum Fairy
1985 Nutcracker program book cover with Tracy-Kai Maier as the Sugar Plum Fairy
1986 Nutcracker program book cover featuring designer Jose Varona's illustration for the toy seller in SF Ballet's new production
1986 Nutcracker program book cover featuring designer Jose Varona’s illustration for the toy seller in SF Ballet’s new production
1988 Nutcracker program book cover featuring Ludmila Lopukhova, photo Lloyd Englert
1988 Nutcracker program book cover featuring Ludmila Lopukhova, photo Lloyd Englert
1989 Nutcracker program book cover with design by Frazier Design
1989 Nutcracker program book cover with design by Frazier Design

Previous
Next

The 1990s

The 1990s featured the Jose Varona production, and program book covers that were a mix of illustration, still-life photography, and computer-created design, often featuring the iconic dancing, tambourine-wielding bear of that production.

NutCover1990
1991 Nutcracker program book cover with design by Coleman Souter and illustration and hand-lettering by Renee Flower
1991 Nutcracker program book cover with design by Coleman Souter and illustration and hand-lettering by Renee Flower
1992 Nutcracker program book cover
1992 Nutcracker program book cover
1993 Nutcracker program book cover with illustration by Jerry LoFaro
1993 Nutcracker program book cover with illustration by Jerry LoFaro
1994 Nutcracker program book cover with Elizabeth Loscavio and corps de ballet, photo by LLoyed Englert
1994 Nutcracker program book cover with Elizabeth Loscavio and corps de ballet, photo by LLoyed Englert
1988 Nutcracker program book cover with illustration by Terry Kovalcik
1988 Nutcracker program book cover with illustration by Terry Kovalcik
1999 Nutcracker program book cover, photo by Lloyd Englert
1999 Nutcracker program book cover, photo by Lloyd Englert

Previous
Next

Helgi Tomasson unveiled a brand-new production in 2004, set for the first time in San Francisco. With costumes by Martin Pakledinaz and sets by Michael Yeargan, this Nutcracker, set in 1915, has become a beloved classic and continues to be performed each year. Program book covers through the years have featured several of the productions’ many costumed characters.

2004 Nutcracker program book cover with a photograph by David Martinez
2004 Nutcracker program book cover with a photograph by David Martinez
2008 Nutcracker program book cover with a photograph by Erik Tomasson
2008 Nutcracker program book cover with a photograph by Erik Tomasson
2011 Nutcracker program book cover featuring Maria Kochetkova and Pascal Molat in a photograph by Erik Tomasson
2011 Nutcracker program book cover featuring Maria Kochetkova and Pascal Molat in a photograph by Erik Tomasson
2016 Nutcracker program book cover with a photograph by Erik Tomasson
2016 Nutcracker program book cover with a photograph by Erik Tomasson
2017 Nutcracker program book cover, photo © Erik Tomasson
2017 Nutcracker program book cover, photo © Erik Tomasson
2018 Nutcracker program book cover, featuring Ana Sophia Scheller in a photo by Erik Tomasson
2018 Nutcracker program book cover, featuring Ana Sophia Scheller in a photo by Erik Tomasson

Previous
Next

Purchase Nutcracker Tickets

Nutcracker Spot the Difference

With only 21 days left until the Nutcracker leaps across the War Memorial Opera House stage once again (and 34 days until the 75th anniversary of our first Nutcracker performance), we are hard at work making sure everything is in place. 

Can you help us with our preparations? Find the 7 differences between these two images.

Looking for some other fun Nutcracker activities? We’ve got you covered! 


Sugar Plum Fairy Coloring Page


Clara Paper Doll


Word Search


Selfie Props


Clara Coloring Page


Prince Paper Doll


Purchase Nutcracker Tickets

All images: San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson’s Nutcracker // © Erik Tomasson

Carolin’ Around the Christmas Tree

On the first day of Nutcracker, SF Ballet gave to me: carolers in the lobby! Before our opening night performance on December 11—as well as before the rest of our Passport performances this holiday season—a local choir will perform some of your favorite holiday hymns and hits. Come to the War Memorial Opera House early, grab a festive drink, and listen to these fabulous performers:

Scene from San Francisco Ballet’s opening night Nutcracker Passport performance // © Erik Tomasson

December 11: Pacific Boychoir Academy
December 12: San Francisco Girls Chorus
December 13: Bay Area Vocal Academy
December 15: KEEVA A Cappella
D
ecember 18: Bay Area Vocal Academy
December 19: Bay Area Vocal Academy


RESERVE YOUR TICKETS TODAY


PASSPORT PERFORMANCE INFO

Header Image: Scene from a San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker Passport performance // © Gary Sexton