December 9-24, 2023


At the Irvine Barclay Theatre

Family-Friendly, Traditional, Warmth of the Holiday Season


A cherished holiday classic, perfect for all ages.

Create holiday memories for your family by sharing the magic of The Nutcracker.

Festival Ballet Theatre’s family-friendly breathtaking production features superb colorful scenery and dazzling costumes, which make this age-old tradition sparkle like new. Be swept away by Tchaikovsky’s iconic score as the Sugar Plum Fairy, our heroine Clara, and a cast of hundreds take you on a magical journey to mystical lands. This full-length traditional production is choreographed and directed by Festival Ballet Theatre’s Artistic Director, Salwa Rizkalla, and features world-renowned guest artists, FBT’s professional company dancers, and exceptional young talent from across the Southland.

Guests Artists & Performances:

To Be Announced
Saturday, December 9 at 1pm
Saturday, December 9 at 6pm
Sunday, December 10 at 1pm

Jeraldine Mendoz, Joffrey Ballet
Dylan GutierrezJoffrey Ballet
Saturday, December 16 at 1pm
Saturday, December 16 at 6pm
Sunday, December 17 at 1pm
Sunday, December 17 at 6pm

Tiler Peck, New York City Ballet
Roman Mejia, New York City Ballet

Thursday, December 21 at 6pm
Friday, December 22 at 1pm
Friday, December 22 at 6pm

To Be Announced
Saturday, December 23 at 1pm
Saturday, December 23 at 6pm
Sunday, December 24 at 11am

*Guest artists may be subject to change


Join Us For A Very Special Event

(Limited number of tickets available)

Party is held at the Barclay’s Jade Room and begins one hour prior to a performance.

Guests will enjoy catered gourmet finger sandwiches, petit fours and scones with tea and lemonade in the elegantly holiday decorated Jade Room at Irvine Barclay Theatre. A glass of champagne adds to the festive experience for the adults. Characters from the Nutcracker ballet, including Clara, will join the party as the story of The Nutcracker ballet and the magical adventure is told.

Photo opportunities and a party favor for each guest included.


Festival Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker

  • Set to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s iconic (traditional) score
  • Features world-renowned guest artists, FBT’s professional company dancers, exceptional young talent from across the Southland, and a cast of more than 200 Southern California children
  • Full-length, traditional production choreographed and directed by Festival Ballet Theatre’s Artistic Director Salwa Rizkalla
  • Family-friendly, fast-paced production perfect for all ages
  • Colorful scenery and dazzling costumes by Simon Pastukh and Galina Solovyeva


 Act I

At the home of Dr. and Mrs. Stahlbaum, guests attending the Stahlbaum family’s holiday party arrive and are graciously greeted by the hosts and their children, Fritz and Clara.

Scene I: The Party

At the party, parents and children dance, visit and exchange gifts. Clara’s godfather, the mysterious Dr. Drosselmeyer, arrives with festive, awe-inspiring boxes from which a life-sized Porcelain Doll,

Harlequinette and Toy Soldier come to life and dance. The children can hardly believe their eyes. After an argument arises between Fritz and Clara, Dr. Drosselmeyer comforts his goddaughter with the gift of a wooden nutcracker soldier. The new toy enchants Clara but, out of jealousy, Fritz grabs the toy and breaks it. Coming to the rescue once again, Dr. Drosselmeyer mends the nutcracker. All the girls join Clara in a lullaby dance with their new dolls – protecting them from Fritz and his fellow mischief-makers.

As the party winds down and the guests begin to leave, the Stahlbaums retire for the evening. Clara wants to take her injured nutcracker to her room, but her mother has her place the toy under the tree with the other gifts.

Scene II: The Battle

During the night, a worried Clara checks on her beloved nutcracker. While in the parlor, she is frightened by large mice and their gruesome leader, the Mouse King. Dr. Drosselmeyer appears, and using his magical powers, commands the Christmas tree to grow and brings the nutcracker to life. Now a life-size soldier, the Nutcracker leads an army of toy soldiers in a battle against the ferocious Mouse King and his minions. When the Mouse King wounds the Nutcracker, Clara runs to his rescue and distracts the evil beast. The Nutcracker protects Clara by slaying the Mouse King and is transformed into a handsome Prince. As a show of gratitude, he takes Clara on a magical journey.

Scene III: The Land of Snow

The Nutcracker Prince and Clara travel through the Land of Snow, presided over by the graceful Snow Queen. The delicate Snowflakes whirl to the delight of Clara and her Nutcracker Prince, and with the help of their gracious Snow Queen, send them off to the Kingdom of Sweets.

Act II

Clara and the Nutcracker Prince arrive in the Kingdom of Sweets where they are welcomed by the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier. In the Palace of the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Nutcracker Prince reenacts the fearsome battle with the Mouse King and credits Clara’s courage for saving his life. An immediate celebration in honor of our heroine is proclaimed. One after another, Spanish dancers, Chinese dancers, Arabian dancers, Russian dancers, Merlitons, Mother Ginger and her Gingersnaps, as well as the elegant Dew Drop and her delicate flowers dance in honor of Clara. As a final tribute to Clara and her Prince, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier perform a special pas de deux. At the close of the ballet, Clara is left wondering if this incredible journey was real or just an exciting, wonderful dream.

Festival Ballet Theatre’s Nutcracker history

  • Performances began in 1989
  • Presented at various Orange County venues throughout the years:
    – Historic Huntington Beach High School Auditorium
    – Orange Coast College’s Robert B. Moore Theatre
    – Carpenter Performing Arts Center in Long Beach
  • Performed annually since 2007 at the beautiful 754-seat Irvine Barclay Theatre on the University of California, Irvine campus