The Anaheim Ballet and Muzeo present
Insights and the role of the costume in the beloved and timeless Christmas story
Original Costume Designs
Sarma Lapenieks Rosenberg
Original Costume Wardrobe Mistress
with Rayell Segerstrom
Rayell Segerstrom, Anaheim Ballet Board Member and former Anaheim Ballet dancer, shares personal favorites from her extensive Nutcracker collection along with memories of past Nutcracker performances.
Anaheim Ballet's Nutcracker Synopsis
Act I: Christmas
Preparations are underway at the Stahlbaum home for a festive Christmas celebration. Frau and Herr Stahlbaum keep things under control as guests arrive with presents for their daughter Clara and her brother Fritz. Fritz, constantly mischievous, teases his sister who cannot be bothered with such foolishness as she senses the magic the evening has to offer. A dark and mysterious guest arrives and fascinates the children with his strange manner and foreboding figure. Clara realizes that it is her uncle, Herr Drosselmeyer. He has come for a visit with special gifts and entertainment for the children. Herr Drosselmeyer’s unusual talents as a toymaker are demonstrated by two mechanical dolls he presents to the children. Clara is filled with delight as her special gift is revealed: a Nutcracker doll. Others might find the doll oddly grotesque; yet, Clara sees a certain charm and is enamored by it. Fritz, seizing the opportunity to torment his sister, handles the doll roughly and breaks it. Clara is heartbroken and vows to protect the doll for all time. Herr Drosselmeyer is touched by her sincerity and fixes the doll, promising her untold surprises yet to come.
As midnight nears, the guests begin to depart. The maid clears the room and Clara is told that she must leave the Nutcracker alone for the night. As everyone sleeps, Clara returns to the doll, as she cannot bear leaving it to the eeriness of the night. She cradles the doll in her arms as they both fall asleep. Suddenly, Herr Drosselmeyer appears. He has concealed himself in the room while all of the other guests departed. He calls upon his magical powers to transform the Stahlbaum living room into a battlefield that will test Clara’s love for the Nutcracker. The room becomes transfixed as little mice scurrying about the house become giants, Fritz’s toy soldiers become an attacking army, and the Mouse King and the Nutcracker engage in battle. While watching the intense swordplay, Clara fears for the Nutcracker’s life and distracts the Mouse King with a blow from her shoe. This is the needed opportunity for the Nutcracker’s victory and the Mouse King falls to the floor in defeat. Exhausted, the Nutcracker has also fallen and Clara fears that he may be gone forever. Herr Drosselmeyer returns to reassure Clara in her sorrow and to commend her for her unrelenting devotion.
Clara is mystified by the goings-on but is filled with joy as Herr Drosselmeyer frees the Nutcracker from his woodenness and reveals a handsome young prince. This is only the beginning of her journey. Clara travels through the Kingdom of Snow and follows the Prince and Herr Drosselmeyer to a party held in her honor in the Kingdom of Sweets.
Drosselmeyer's Top Hat and Eye Patch
Drosselmeyer’s complex character is accentuated by an imposing top hat. His eye patch magically seems to imply “he has his eye on you!”
Clara's Party Dress
Clara’s Party dress and nightgown help identify Clara to the audience as a gentle, modest and kind young lady set apart from the other young people at her family’s Christmas party.
Toy Mechanical Doll
Drosselmeyer is a toy maker by earthly trade and he gifts Clara’s family with a life-sized doll in typical doll-like attire. The Doll’s frequent gestures imply that she just might be in on the magic that Herr Drosselmeyer has brought to the party.
The Nutcracker Prince’s costume mask design helps define Clara’s true character as she falls in love with and feels protective towards a not particularly handsome yet magical doll.
The snow scene depicts a serious winter storm, another trial to define Clara’s stalwart character. Each snowflake is unique in design but fits perfectly into the whole of the storm.
Act II: The Kingdom of Sweets
The Peppermint Page announces the arrival of the honored guests. Welcomed to Kingdom of Sweets by its hostess, the Sugar Plum Fairy, Clara marvels at the limitless abundance of treats: candycanes, bonbons, cakes and gingerbreads. No boundaries, laws, or limits exist in this land of the sweets. Only generous portions are offered here.
Clara is bestowed a crown of crystal sugar as she and the Prince take their seats of honor on a throne made of cake. Clara is asked by the Sugar Plum Fairy to tell everyone of the perilous trials she endured before reaching the Kingdom of Sweets. International guests arrive and offer their own special delicacies to the honored pair: chocolate from Spain, coffee from Arabia, toffee from England, tea from China, peppermint from Russia and marzipan from Germany. The Italian ambassador acts as the Sugar Plum Fairy’s companion and Cavalier for the celebration. There is also a special visit from France’s Mother Ginger and the delicious waltz of the icing flowers from the cake. The most exciting moment arrives when the Sugar Plum Fairy honors all with a sumptuous dance.
Clara’s journey is not over. As is the custom of European children to fancifully launch walnut shells down streams and envision their future travels, a walnut sailboat arrives to transport Clara and the Prince on to other lands of dreams come true...a journey never to end as long as there are dreams to dream and children to dream them...
In Anaheim Ballet's production, the “Kingdom of Sweets” is a bustling location. Peppermint Page acts as a greeter and sometimes orchestrator of events.
Spanish, The Gift of Chocolate
Anaheim Ballet's Act II documents Clara’s arrival at the Nutcracker’s Kingdom of Sweets. Candyland symbolizes an idealized world with all nations jointly celebrating the joys of life. The Spanish ambassadors bring the gift of chocolate to celebrate the Nutcracker Prince and Clara’s arrival.
Mother Ginger's (Mère Gigone) Bon Bons
An audience favorite, towering French Mother Ginger arrives to deliver her multiplying Bon Bons. Oftentimes audience members are lucky enough to take home in their pockets a miniature memory of their participation in Anaheim Ballet’s Nutcracker!
Dew Drop Fairy and Waltz of the Flowers
Choreographer Sarma Lapenieks Rosenberg had always wondered why the inclusion of a “flower” dance in the Kingdom of Sweets was created. In a deep historical search of the early creation of the ballet, Sarma was enthralled to find that so much was focused on the pastries and cakes as if to imply that Clara and the Nutcracker Prince sat upon a throne of delicacies. Hence, Anaheim Ballet’s production has the delectable icing flowers come to life and dance off of a multilayered throne cake! The more traditional Dewdrop Fairy flitters about the Flowers as if offering her blessings to the entire celebration.
Waltz of the Flowers
Sugar Plum Fairy
The Sugar Plum Fairy and all others in the Kingdom of Sweets do the works of good that Herr Drosselmeyer orders. Sugar Plum welcomes Clara to her realm with a touch of melancholy as she reflects on the passage of time. Her costume celebrates the sumptuous delicacies offered at the celebration.
Cavalier Tunic with Hat and Cape
As one of the national ambassadors attending the celebration, the Italian Ambassador and Sugar Plum’s Cavalier was only recently defined as to his origins. In previous productions around the world he was an anonymous nationality until a connection was made to his music, which is an Italian tarantella. This clarification even allows for a fedora style hat, which was historically worn in Italy during Nutcracker’s creation and first productions. This style of hat eventually evolved into the Frank Sinatra-style fedora that we easily recognize today.