George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ by the Numbers

The whole town will be buzzing when the curtain goes up on PNB’s new production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™, freshly imagined by celebrated author and illustrator Ian Falconer (Olivia the Pig), plus Tchaikovsky’s timeless score, more than 150 roles, and McCaw Hall all aglitter with new décor and surprises!


The Costumes



Over 50 drapers, stitchers, first hands, milliners, dyers and painters built the Nutcracker costumes. PNB’s shop was not large enough to accommodate the number of costumers required, so some were constructed at the Seattle Children’s Theater and Seattle Repertory Theatre costume shops. There are 154 costumes in the show, not counting duplicates (i.e., multiple versions of the same costume, for different-sized dancers playing the same role – Sugar Plum Fairy, Cavalier, Dewdrop, etc.)


  • 640:  Black pompoms on the eight Polichinelle costumes. 
  • 760:  Petals on the Waltz of the Flowers costumes. (19 costumes, including extras.)
  • Clara’s party dress and Drosselmeier’s coat lining required 10 light coats of red paint for each stripe.


  • Each Snow skirt has nine layers of various fabrics. There are 56 points on each skirt.
  • There are 174 velvet diamonds and 322 jewels on the Harlequin costume. The Harlequin’s partner, Columbine, has 160 velvet diamonds and 272 jewels.
  • 4,000: Holes cut by hand to create the lace “doily” tutus and headpieces for the Marzipan costumes. 


  • 10 feet and 60 pounds: The width and weight of Mother Ginger’s skirt.
  • 175: Number of snaps on the Mother Ginger costume.
  • 300: Jewels hand-sewn on the two Coffee (peacock) headpieces.
  • 500: Yards of tubular horsehair used for the Party Mothers’ hairpieces.
  • 1,428: Cabochons sewn onto the Hot Chocolate women’s costumes. 
  • 2,568: Appliques machine-sewn on the seven Spanish dresses.
  • Sewing the Nutcracker doll required a 16” long needle.



The Scenery



  • The corridor scrim at the top of the show depicts Nutcracker historical figures Alexander Dumas, E.T.A. Hoffman, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov, George Balanchine, and Lincoln Kirstein.


  • There are 22 painted drops.
  • 3,000 square yards of fabric were used in the creation of the scenery.
  • 343 gallons of paint were used in the painting of the scenery.
  • An actual walnut was used to model the construction and painting of the Nut Boat.


  • It took 400 hours to build the Christmas tree. At its full height it stands 40 feet. There are 450 lights on it.
  • 30 cubic feet of “snow” will be deployed during the Act I Snow scene, per performance.



The Mice


Seventeen mice (eight adult mice, eight young mice, and the seven-headed Mouse King) were built by Erik Andor and a team of fabricators in his Pioneer Square studio.



  • 98 yards of “fur” were used to create the mice. They have a total of 230 whiskers. Each adult tail consists of 25 segments. Each ear is made up of six pieces.
  • Laid end-to-end, the mice’s upper lips total 782 inches.
  • Eagle-eyed audience members may spy one gold tooth on the Mouse King.



The Video


One of the delightful highlights of PNB’s production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker® is the animated video that accompanies the overture. Created by Straightface Studios located in the Interbay neighborhood of Seattle, the three-and-a-half minute video takes audiences on a flight through the woods and a New England town, up to the front steps of the Stahlbaum home. In 2016, Straightface created a second video to play during the first act violin solo following the Party scene. This video integrates live-action ballet dancers into a computer-generated world.


  • Work began in June 2015: The finished product features over 200,000 frames rendered on approximately two dozen computers. (It would take 600 days of rendering on one computer.)
  • The town in the video is inspired by antique mid-19th Century maps and satellite images of New England.
  • There are over 1.5 million trees, 8,540 bushes, 287 buildings, and seven mice in the 3D animation.



The Merch



Amusements Gift Shop at McCaw Hall has stocked its online store with 15,300 ornaments, 1,400 nutcrackers, 4,400 plush dolls, 1,000 posters, 300 tiaras and 120 tutus for shoppers attending the show.



Featured photo: PNB School students as Polichinelles in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, photo © Angela Sterling.