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IN THE LOOP | How to safely enjoy ‘The Nutcracker’ in San Antonio amid the pandemic

From in-person socially-distanced performances to virtual streams, ballet companies and schools are getting creative with their Nutcracker performances this year.

SAN ANTONIO — The holiday season will look a little bit different this year amid coronavirus safety restrictions, but one traditional Christmas performance isn’t slowing down, and there are numerous safe ways to enjoy it.

A little bit of magic and a lot of innovation will help local groups produce performances of “The Nutcracker” to delight audiences during the Christmas season.

From in-person socially-distanced shows to virtual streams and even drive-in performances, there are a number of ways to be transported to the Sugar Plum Fairy’s Land of Sweets. 

Often considered a Christmas classic, “The Nutcracker” ballet follows the story of young Clara, who on Christmas Eve falls in love with a wooden nutcracker given to her by her godfather. When the clock strikes midnight, the nutcracker comes to life and Clara finds herself in the middle of a battle between the nutcracker and the evil Mouse King. 

As the night continues, Clara is whisked away to the Land of Sweets where fantasy and magic meld together for an unforgettable adventure. And while the productions may vary in their retelling of the story, the heart of the tale remains the same-- there’s no limit to the amount of magic that can occur at Christmastime. 

The following productions have all been designed with health and safety precautions at the top of mind. With that being said, there are varying risk levels for any and all events during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Be sure to review the CDC’s recommendation for holiday celebrations and small gatherings. 

In-person socially-distanced performances of The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker v. 2020 by Ballet San Antonio 

  • HEB Performance Hall at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts (indoors)
  • Runs Dec. 4-13 with multiple performances on the 5 and 12 
  • Ticket cost: varies from $85 to $114
  • For more information on Ballet San Antonio or to purchase tickets, click here.  
Credit: Ballet San Antonio

In this version of “The Nutcracker,” audiences will meet a grown-up Clara who is celebrating the holiday season with her husband, William. One winter night, Clara’s godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer pays the couple a visit, “setting in motion [Drosselmeyer’s] magical plan in which they will embark on a new Nutcracker adventure. 

According to Ballet San Antonio’s website, “due to social distancing requirements, seating assignments will be determined by The Tobin Center in the best seats available within your selected zone.” For more information on health and safety protocols being taken at Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, visit the website here

“The Nutcracker” by the Greater San Antonio Academy of Ballet

  • San Antonio Botanical Gardens (outdoors)
  • Runs Dec. 12 with two performances
  • Ticket cost: $30
  • For more information on Greater San Antonio Academy of Ballet or to purchase tickets, click here
Credit: Greater San Antonio Academy of Ballet

In this version of “The Nutcracker,” the Sugar Plum Fairy narrates memories from the Land of Sweets. 

Social distancing guidelines will be in place. 

For more information on the San Antonio Botanical Garden, click here.

Drive-in performance 

“Nutcracker Under The Stars” by the San Antonio Youth Ballet

  • Mission Outdoor Theater (outdoors)
  • Runs Dec. 4 - 20 
  • Ticket cost: varies from $50 to $100
  • For more information on the San Antonio Youth Ballet, click here or to purchase tickets click here. 
Credit: San Antonio Youth Ballet

The magic of "The Nutcracker" is happening at the Drive-In. Enjoy this Christmas classic safely and responsibly from the comfort of your car. The live performance will be projected onto the movie screen so that all will be able to enjoy the San Antonio Youth Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker Suite. 

For more information about the Mission Outdoor Theater and its health and safety protocols, click here.

RELATED: Live, drive-in version of the Nutcracker kicks off in San Antonio

Virtual performances of The Nutcracker  

“The Children’s Nutcracker” by the Children’s Ballet of San Antonio

  • Virtual performance streamed
  • Runs Dec. 18 - 26
  • Ticket cost: varies from $50+ 
  • For more information on the Children’s Ballet of San Antonio or to purchase tickets, click here.  
Credit: Children's Ballet of SA

In this version of "The Nutcracker," we'll see Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Snow Queen, and more. This year's interpretation includes a 2020 twist with masks and Zoom family gatherings integrated into the storyline. 

This family-friendly presentation of “The Children’s Nutcracker” includes professionally-trained dancers ranging from age 3 to age 19. The CBSA will be partnering with Bird Bakery for an interactive experience to accompany the viewings of the performances. 

Again, for more information on the Children’s Ballet of San Antonio, click here

“Great Russian Nutcracker: Christmas Stream” by the Moscow Ballet 

  • Virtual performance streamed (typically, this production is performed at The Majestic Theatre)
  • Runs Dec. 19 - 29
  • Ticket cost: varies from $25 to $100 
  • For more information on the Moscow Ballet’s production of the “Great Russian Nutcracker," click here.  
Credit: Moscow Ballet

A particularly popular production of “The Nutcracker” is that of the Moscow Ballet. While the Moscow Ballet typically performs at The Majestic Theatre, this year, audiences will be able to watch the Great Russian Nutcracker from the best seat in the house-- their living room. During this stream, viewers will have the opportunity to “see the full performance as captured on stage plus an up-close look at the behind-the-scenes action.”

Again, for more information on the Moscow Ballet’s production of the “Great Russian Nutcracker,” click here.

And if all else fails...

Rent Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (film)

Available for rent on the following streaming platforms: 

  • Amazon Prime Video ($2.99)
  • YouTube ($3.99)
  • Google Play Movies & TV ($3.99)
  • Vudu ($3.99)

The 2018 Disney film “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is a retelling of the classic tale of “The Nutcracker.” In this version, Clara, who is played by Mackenzie Foy travels into an alternate universe where she encounters the Nutcracker and travels through Four Realms as she seeks to retrieve a key given to her by her godfather which is needed to unlock a gift from her late mother. Along the way, Clara makes friends, encounters enemies, and displays great courage in the face of adversity. 

A trailer of the film can be viewed below: 

Read the “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E.T.A. Hoffman (book)

  • Available for purchase on Amazon (prices vary)

Back to the heart of it all. “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” a classic Christmas tale was written by E.T.A Hoffman and served as the inspiration for Tchaikovsky’s ballet and all of the aforementioned productions. Settle in with your loved ones for an enchanting and whimsical tale. 

A version of this book can be found here.