As the holiday season kicked off this year, I remember my mother suggesting that I take my daughter see The Nutcracker. Though I’m Jewish, The Nutcracker ballet was a family tradition in my house when I was growing up. I can vaguely remember going to see the show live, and we had a video of the ballet that I watched more times than I can count.
Unfortunately, my tot is too young to see the show at the San Francisco Ballet. I doubt she’d sit through the two-hourish long show, so the $35 to $310 tickets would definitely be a waste of money. Plus, she’s not welcome there anyway. “Nutcracker is best enjoyed by children ages 5 and older,” says the ballet’s Web site. “Out of courtesy to your fellow audience members, SF Ballet request no infants or toddlers, please.”
So I did a little research into our options and was pleased to learn that there are special versions of the famous ballet designed just for the toddler set. To help other parents who also want to expose their little ones to The Nutcracker, I’ve gathered some of the still playing, little kid-friendly options together in today’s hint (and if you don’t live in the Bay Area, New York or Chicago, share your favorite toddler-friendly holiday shows in the comments section below).
The Bay Area
– Mark Foehringer’s Nutcracker Sweets, A 50-minute version of the ballet (with live music) designed just for small children with short attention spans. Through December 24, Fort Mason, San Francisco
–The Nutcracker, A puppet show, December 19, Tiburon
–The Nutcracker, A puppet show, Children’s Fairyland, December 23, Oakland
–Ballet for Young Audiences’ The Nutcracker One-hour presentation, Through at least December 20
(See more potential local options in a nice Time Out New York Kids roundup from a few years ago)
The Chicago Area
(See more local options at ChicagoKids)
To be sure, instead of taking your little one to an actual show, a cheaper option is to let your tot watch the ballet on television or the computer. There are a host of kid-friendly Nutcracker options, and you could also put on a video of the full-version ballet and see how long your little one can sit through it.
And it turns out, this was how my mother introduced me to the show when I was about 2. At first, “TV is best,” she tells me now. Before publishing this post, I asked her if she really had suggested I take my toddler to see The Nutcracker. Turns out, she meant I should have her watch at least part of it on television.
What are your favorite toddler-friendly holiday shows and productions of The Nutcracker? Share them below.