The Nutcracker

Parent Q&A

  • Nutcracker for 5 year old boy?

    (7 replies)

    I have an active 5 year old boy, and I'd like to take him to see the Nutcracker. He's been to musicals through the Bay Area Children's Theatre, and they were just about short enough for him to sit through. Any recommendations? I would have loved to take him to the one in Alameda but I hear they are not performing this year. Thanks!

    If you're thinking of the full-length Nutcracker, I wouldn't recommend it for a 5 year old unless he is into dance and already familiar with the music. We took our son to see it when he was in 1st grade - he was very bored and it was really a waste of an expensive ticket. I think it's too long for kids this age to enjoy - there are long stretches of pure ballet which is pretty boring for little kids - you see them squirming in their seats for all but the most thrilling scenes, which are few and far between  (the Xmas tree that grows, the sword fight with rats).   I would wait till he's 8 or 9 at least, and play him the music beforehand a few times so it's familiar.  After he sees the Nutcracker, take him the next year to see the Hard Nut (Mark Morris.)  Very entertaining!  In the meantime you might try one of the shorter regional productions, or try the Velveteen Rabbit at the Yerba Buena Center - it was a hit with my kid. It's relatively short, and has a story line kids can follow. 

    Agree with first respondent, most 5 year olds regardless of gender can't sit still/quietly that long. Two years ago I borrowed the DVD of the NY Ballet's Nutcracker with Macauley Culkin, and we watched it at home with frequent wiggle breaks for my then 4 & 6 year olds, it was perfect.

    We got free tickets to the SF Ballet Nutcracker when my daughter was 2.5. I thought it would be crazy to take her, but since the tickets were free I thought we could leave if she got too squirmy. Well it turned out that she 1. lasted through it better than I expected, and 2. there were a few rows in the back of the balcony that were completely empty, so we moved back there were she could move around a little bit.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Where to eat /park before 7pm Nutcracker show SF

December 2005

I am taking my 75 year old mother and two children to the Nutcracker to a 7pm showing on December 22. It has been a few years since I've been there, and I cannot remember the best places to park so that we won't have far to walk. I'm also looking for a great place to eat prior to the show. I seem to recall our eating experience as dissapointing and I want to make sure that it's better this time. Somewhere in keeping with the style of the Opera House--for foodies--(don't like that word; is there another?) but also a place where children are made feel welcome. I will admit to being partial to very fine restaurants and have no qualms about taking my kids to them, so long as the staff are friendly to us. (I have not been to Zuni; I've heard it's great; don't know if it fits with plan? It might also be best if I could park easily--don't mind paying-- and close by. I don't like Max's Opera Plaza, and have not yet eaten at a restaurant I liked near the opera house, however, I've only tried four or five and it's been a few years. Do not like an overly stuffy and pretensious atmosphere. Would like to make it a really memorable evening of wonderful food and atmosphere before we go on to the Nutcracker--after which my 7 year old will be almost asleep, so parking I can carry her to-- if I have to--would be great. Thank you! anon

My family has been going to the 7 p.m. Nutcracker for years. We park in the garage on the north side of Hayes just west of Franklin and have dinner at Jardinaire on Hayes just across from the Opera House. You should make reservations ASAP. anonymous

We go to the matinee Nutcracker show every year (my kids are 5 and 7). We drive, park in the lot across the street (Civic Center Parking, I think it's called -- entrance is on Mc Allister), and eat at Max's Opera Cafe before the show. They have a kid's menu and they're always really nice. They are very used to the Nutcracker crowd! Make sure to give yourself plenty of time if you choose to go there because I believe they do not take reservations. You have to wait in line. The food's not that special but at least it is close to the theater and fun for the kids. Laurel

Which Nutcracker for a 3-yr-old?

Sept 2004

Our 3-year-old daughter is smitten by the ballet bug, so we're looking into Nutcracker performances this winter as her first major ballet performance. We're trying to figure out which Nutcracker to go to--we'd like a family friendly atmosphere, and probably a fairly traditional interpretation (i.e. nothing too abstract for the little one.) Evidently the San Francisco Ballet has done a major overhaul this season to their production--does anyone know anything about the new version? What about the Berkeley Ballet production at the Julia Morgan? Does anyone know about Ballet San Jose's production? Any other good Bay Area productions I should consider (now that Oakland Ballet is no more)? I've looked at the archives but would like some current input. Also, suggestions for any other ballet/dance performances suitable for young audiences would be welcome. Thanks for your suggestions. Little Ballerina's Mommy

We went to the one at the Dean Lesher Center in Walnut Creek some years ago when our daughter was about that age. VERY kid friendly. Dancing not the quality of some the others, perhaps, but heck, we're talking a 3-year-old, right? And, Walnut Creek is a lot easier to get to in the busy holiday season than SF. Enjoy -- wherever you go!

The Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek has a very child-friendly, approachable Nutcracker. It's performed by local ballet companies, and checking their website just now ( I see there will be two Nutcrackers put on by different companies this December. The staging is nowhere as opulent as say the SF Ballet's version, but it's a great intro. Our daughter was especially thrilled and inspired by all the kids that perform in the show. Christina

I took my daugther to her first ''Nutcracker'' when she just turned 3, and we went to the Berkley Ballet Theater at the Julia Morgan Theater. It was ideal -- the theater itself is small and ticket prices are reasonable. I figured that if she couldn't make it all the way through the performance, I wouldn't have spent so much money on tickets that I'd regret leaving early. I got seats fairly close to the stage so my daughter could see well. It turned out that she was enchanted -- the littlest dancers were only a few years older than she and that delighted her -- and we stayed for the whole performance. But it's not just great for preschoolers: my daughter will be 9 this coming ''Nutcracker'' season, and we've gone to the Berkeley Ballet Theater's production ever year but one ever since the first. I highly recommend it! Lorraine

Oakland Ballet Nutcracker vs. San Francisco Nutcracker

Nov 1999

I would appreciate comments on Oakland Nutcracker vrs. San Francisco Nutcracker. Is San Francisco worth the extra travel time and $$? Thank you in advance.

The SF Nutcracker is incredible! I would consider it a VERY special treat. But, very expensive when considering taking small children. The good seats which will allow them to see are prohibitive for most at $42-$95 and the affordable seats (balcony) would have trouble capturing a small child, I think. The Oakland Ballet's version is very good also (different, a bit more abstract than the SF). The tickets are so much cheaper and you're much more likely to get seats up close. I took my daughter when she was 2 1/2 and she loved it! I would highly recommend it. The Julia Morgan Theatre also hosts a version and the tickets are fairly cheap for it. I haven't seen it yet, though.

Berkeley actually has two ballet companies. I can specifically and enthusiastically recommend the Berkeley Ballet Theater's production of The Nutcracker, at the charming and intimate Julia Morgan Theatre on College Avenue. It's an especially good venue for a young child's Nutcracker experience. I took my just-turned-three year old daughter last year: we got great seats about eight rows from the stage at a reasonable price. She had a terrific view, and sat enrapt for both acts. The box office number is 843-4687.