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Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's THE NUTCRACKER Opens Tonight at the Benedum Center


The performance schedule includes a sensory-friendly performance for children and adults with autism spectrum disorder.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's THE NUTCRACKER Opens Tonight at the Benedum Center

The curtain is about to come up on Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's premiere performance of 'The Nutcracker' this year - and the first live performance of this beloved production in two years. The triumphant return of this treasured family holiday tradition starts at 7 p.m. on Fri., Dec. 10, kicking off a three week run of the most popular ballet of the year. The performance schedule includes a sensory-friendly performance for children and adults with autism spectrum disorder, sensory sensitivities or other individualized needs at 2 p.m. Fri., Dec. 17.

The annual production, which went digital last year due to COVID-19, features Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's classic score, choreography and concept by former PBT Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr, and costume and set designs by Emmy-winning designer Zack Brown.

"'The Nutcracker' is one of the most magical performances of the year and one that brings families together to enjoy ballet," says PBT Artistic Director Susan Jaffe. "Sitting in the audience, the gratitude and joy that people have for this show is palpable. We're thrilled to be able to welcome audiences back in person for this special tradition."

During COVID-19 theater closures last year, PBT debuted "Fireside Nutcracker," a virtual adaptation of the classic production, which won three Telly Awards and two Davey Awards and reached more than 50,000 viewers in over 30 countries.

The full sweep of the production returns to the stage tonight, Fri., Dec. 10. Each performance features five scenes and over 150 roles and costumes for both professional company members and student dancers from PBT School. A growing Christmas tree, falling snow and magic tricks created by a professional magician add to the enchantment.

"This year, we are closer to reaching our ticket sales goal than we have been at this same point in time for the last five years, which tells us that audiences are just as excited as we are to return to the theater for live performances," said PBT Executive Director Harris Ferris. "We are so pleased by this incredibly positive response to a performance that sustains our organization for much of the year."

Single tickets start at $29 and are available at or 412-456-6666. Subscription packages start at $84 and offer subscriber benefits and 20% savings over single tickets. Learn more at or 412-454-9107. Groups of eight or more save up to 50% at Detailed information about the theater's COVID-19 protocols - including mask and vaccine requirements - is available at Find a full list of performance times here.

About Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's 'The Nutcracker'

"The Nutcracker" is one of the best-known ballets of all time, based on German author E.T.A. Hoffman's 1816 tale "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King." The first ballet adaptation premiered in 1892 at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. PBT has performed versions of "The Nutcracker" since the 1970s and presented Orr's Pittsburgh-inspired interpretation since 2002.

PBT's version opens with a Christmas Eve party in early 20th-century Shadyside, where a gift from mysterious Uncle Drosselmeyer sparks an adventure for young Marie Stahlbaum.

The story unfolds through classical dancing, ranging from the ethereal Snow Scene to the virtuosic dances of the Land of Enchantment. The choreography culminates with a grand pas de deux for the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier before the story returns to the Stahlbaum home, leaving Marie to wonder, "Was it all a dream?"

Theater Programs
Audience members are invited to join PBT online and at the theater for a series of pre- and post-show programs for even deeper engagement with the show. Find a full listing here.

Accessibility Programs
In addition to its Fri., Dec. 17 sensory-friendly performance of "The Nutcracker," PBT will offer a virtual Afternoon of Enchantment workshop featuring Nutcracker-themed activities and a mini adaptive dance class at 2 p.m. Sat., Dec. 18. Guests can register at

PBT will offer audio-described performances of "The Nutcracker," featuring live narration for patrons with blindness or low vision, on Sun., Dec. 12 at noon and Fri., Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. Patrons should visit Guest Services before the show for assistance and can find additional information about accessibility services at

Coming Up Next in the 2021-2022 Season:

  • "Alice in Wonderland": February 11-13 at the Benedum Center
  • "Here + Now": March 24-27 at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center
  • "Swan Lake" with the PBT Orchestra: May 6-15 at the Benedum Center

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