In cities across the world, people gather to watch performances of the Nutcracker ballet. It’s a timeless classic that has been rechoreographed, redesigned, and reimagined countless numbers of times. Thanks to the Nutcracker’s recent reinvention in Seattle, our city has a very unique Nutcracker house that you can visit.
If you grew up in Seattle attending the ballet you probably have fond memories of Kent Stowell and Maurice Sendak’s version of the ballet which started in 1983. What made it so unique is that Sendak (author of Where The Wild Things Are) did not try to make the costuming and design child-friendly. Stowell went as far as to say to NPR that “Sendak wanted to challenge kids”.
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That being said, the costumes and set really weren’t that scary. Rather they were whimsical and grand with memorable items like a ” huge rat puppet with a thick twitching tail that looks like it wraps all the way to the other side of the stage … cannons and a Christmas tree that doubles in size to 48 feet right before your eyes.” But these memorable items have been gone since 2014, that’s when Pacific Northwest Ballet switched to George Balanchine choreography and new set designs.
However, you can still visit a few key pieces of the set at a house tucked away in Ballard. According to The Seattle Times, the house belongs to John Carrington, PNB Orchestra’s longtime principal harpist. Since the Sendack production ended he has been gathering pieces of the set like a 15-foot nutcracker and the rat king. Both of which have had their animatronics restored.
If you’re looking for a truly Seattle Christmas display, we highly recommend stopping by Ballard’s Nutcracker house. You’ll find it in the 9000 block of Loyal Ave NW.