Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre: The Nutcracker

benedum center nutcracker
That time of year is approaching – it’s Nutcracker season at the Benedum Center! Featuring staging and choreography by Terrence S. Orr, set to Tchaikovsky’s enduring score, The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s production of the Nutcracker has been a long-standing holiday tradition since the production premiered in 2001. Don’t miss out on Pittsburgh’s favorite holiday performance – choose your show from the list below and get tickets for all the family! Booking early is recommended to get the best seats.


”Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s ‘Nutcracker’ dancers exquisitely captivating in Christmas story”

– Trib Live

”We can always value this production, much like opening a toy chest chock full of Pittsburgh treasures”

– Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

”The Nutcracker transforms the Benedum Center into a winter wonderland”

– Next Pittsburgh

pittsburgh nutcracker live performance benedum center
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre The Nutcracker

The resident Pittsburgh show debuted in 2002 and has since become a seasonal staple, becoming part of the Christmas tradition of the area. Directed by Terrence Orr and set, of course, to  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s memorable score, The Nutcracker brings a familiar story beautifully to life. Adapted from E. T. A. Hoffmann’s story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”, The Nutcracker ballet tells the story of Marie and her favorite Christmas gift, The Nutcracker, who comes to life to defend her from the evil Rat King and transports her to a world populated by dolls and toys. Although the original production of the Nutcracker in 1892 was largely unsuccessful, the ballet began to gain traction in later years, until it became so permeated in the culture of Christmas that its hard to imagine this time of year without it. Various versions of the Nutcracker ballet have been popular around Christmas since the 1960s, and The Nutcracker suite remains one of Tchaikovsky’s best-known compositions to this day.

In 2016, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Nutcracker celebrated it’s 15th anniversary, while Terrence Orr, the mastermind behind the production, saw his 20th year with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Since its very first opening performance in 1892, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker ballet has been an essential holiday favorite the world over.

pittsburgh ballet theatre nutcracker tickets live show christmas

Telling the familiar Christmas story of the gift of nutcracker who comes to life to fight against the devious Rat King, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Nutcracker puts its own Pittsburgh-themed spin on the holiday classic, incorporating nods to Pittsburgh’s landmarks, history and popular culture – with the added exciting twist of an entirely unique casting combination for every performance!

The first act takes place inside Marie’s house, where the inhabitants are preparing for Christmas. One performance to watch out for is that of the uncle Drosselmeyer, who delights the children – and in turn the audience, with a succession of highly impressive magic tricks. As night falls, the Rat King invades – an impressive costumed character with glowing red eyes – and is defeated by Marie and the Nutcracker. In the second act, a celebration is taking place in the faraway world of the dolls. Marie and the Nutcracker are presented with gifts from the Sugar Plum Fairy as thanks for their victory, and various troupes of dancers (including a much-loved swarm of bumblebees played by child actors) give their thanks through the medium. Special effects and creative set design help give this production, already dazzling in terms of its choreography, an extra special lift, with a glowing carousel, complete with lights and rotating figures, entering through the top of the stage bringing gasps of wonder from all members of the audience. Throughout the production, there are nods to the ballet’s location, Pittsburgh, adding an extra element of warmth and familiarity to this cherished seasonal fable.

For families concerned their children’s attention may wane throughout the two-hour production, fear not. For years, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker has captured the imagination of its young audience, keeping many a child riveted by the fantastical world playing out before them. Featuring 215 stunning costumes, elaborate props and state-of-the-art stage technology enabling for a towering Christmas tree and whirls of snow, a stellar cast and Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Nutcracker is a delight for the eyes and ears of adults and children of all ages. There’s no better family entertainment at Christmas than a trip to see The Nutcracker – so don’t miss out this year! Book your tickets now and get ready for a visual and auditory experience that will dazzle and delight children and adults alike.