Irvine Barclay Theater will spread Christmas cheer when one of the most iconic holiday stories comes on stage this December. Festival Ballet Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker will have all traditional musical numbers and enchanting holiday magic at Irvine Barclay Theater. Originally written by composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker tells the story of Clara, a young girl celebrating Christmas Eve when she receives a strange gift a nutcracker. As the night continues, the nutcracker comes to life and takes Clara into a world of magic and adventure. 

Audience members will experience memorable moments from the ballet, including the “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy” and the “Waltz of the Snowflakes.” FBT’s production is set to Tchaikovsky’s renowned score and features colorful sets and dazzling costumes by award-winning designers Simon Pastukh and Galina Solovyeva. The story has been delighting audiences and critics in Orange County for more than 30 years. Marketing director and former FBT ballerina Erin Nash said this show will be everything that Irvine residents are looking for. “Nothing captures the magic and warmth of the holidays like The Nutcracker. I personally love to see the wonder in the eyes of our audience. It’s no wonder The Nutcracker has become a staple for so many in their holiday traditions.”

Nutcracker (Courtesy of Festival Ballet Theatre)

Nash added, “FBTs breathtaking production of The Nutcracker makes this age-old holiday tradition sparkle like new. Audiences will be swept away as Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy, dancing toys, mischievous mice, sparkling snowflakes, waltzing flowers, and a cast of hundreds take them on a magical journey to mystical lands. If you’re looking for the timeless, traditional tale of the Nutcracker look no further. FBT’s version will not disappoint.”

Directed and choreographed by Salwa Rizkalla, The Nutcracker will have talents from all across the Southland. In addition to FBT, the production includes talent from the San Francisco Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and Ballet West. The performers include Tara Ghassemieh, Maria Kochetkova, Jeraldine Mendoza and Beckanne Sisk as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Dylan Gutierrez, Vitor Luiz and Chase O’Connell will play the Cavalier.

Nutcracker (Courtesy of Festival Ballet Theatre)

For a truly fulfilling experience, patrons also have the opportunity to attend a pre-show Nutcracker Tea one hour before showtime. Nash described this as “a very special experience, especially for families of young children. Parents are served champagne while children enjoy tea sandwiches, sweet treats, lemonade and tea and they get to meet and take pictures with Clara and other cast members!”

As a nonprofit organization, FBT relies on philanthropic donations to spread appreciation for art and dance. Nash said the company has been fortunate enough to have a donor this year who will match all donations that FBT receives for up to $10,000. Not only do FBT present unique performances and provide a nurturing experience for the dancers, they also offer educational outreach programs. This includes the Ballet to School program and Children’s Invitation to Ballet.

The Nutcracker opens at Irvine Barclay Theater on December 7 and continues through December 24. For more details, visit and