This Saturday, December 22 and Sunday, December 23, Oglebay Institute’s Youth Ballet Company will present “The Nutcracker” in Wheeling at Towngate Theatre.

This annual show at Towngate is a holiday tradition and is loved by many. Those who attend will be dazzled by dancing flowers, flurries of snowflakes, beautiful fairies and a legion of mice as they dance across the stage in beautiful costumes. You will be transported into a Christmas fantasy as you wonder at the lovely set and Tchaikovsky’s beloved score embraces you.

The History of “The Nutcracker”

“The Nutcracker” is certainly a holiday tradition for many. This classic ballet is staged all over the world this time of year. Families everywhere see it annually as a part of their holiday traditions. But it wasn’t always the case. In fact,  both audiences and critics panned “The Nutcracker” when it premiered. How did it come to be such a Christmas classic?

In 1844, Alexandre Dumas (of “The Three Musketeers” fame) had written an adaptation of the story, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E.T.A. Hoffmann. The director of Moscow’s Imperial Theatres, Ivan Vsevolozhsky, commissioned a ballet version of the story in 1891. It was set to music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, following the huge success of his “Sleeping Beauty” just two years previously. Furthermore, Marius Petipa, one of the most influential ballet masters and choreographers in the history of ballet, originally choreographed “The Nutcracker.”

Everything seemed to be in place. A winning writer, composer and choreographer all taking part in a new ballet. “The Nutcracker” first premiered a week before Christmas 1892. However, the first production of “The Nutcracker” was a failure. Neither the audience nor the critics liked it. The ballet only gained popularity in future productions, specifically when it began being performed in Western countries.

The first performance of “The Nutcracker” in the United States took place in 1944 at the San Francisco Opera Ballet. By changing a few characters, choreographer George Balanchine brought new life to “The Nutcracker.” His 1954 production for the New York City Ballet popularized the ballet, establishing it as a holiday tradition. Many of the versions of “The Nutcracker” performed today are based on the version created by George Balanchine.

“The Nutcracker” in Wheeling at Towngate

Gather your family and join us at Towngate Theatre for this magical holiday journey. Performances are 3pm & 7pm Saturday, December 22 and Sunday, December 23 at Towngate Theatre.

Tickets are $12.50 ($11 OI members) for adults and $10 ($8.50 OI members) for children 10 & under.

Purchase tickets online or call 304-242-7700.

Sugar Plum Social

Join the cast of “The Nutcracker” for a Sugar Plum Social prior to the matinee shows. Enjoy refreshments and get pictures with Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy 1-2pm December 22 & 23. $15 per child. (Purchase with your ticket.)