Photo: Hans Gerritsen

Nutcrackers that come to life and mouse masks made of paper

29 February 2024

Props and costumes from The Nutcracker and the Mouse King

Since its premiere on 13 December 1996, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King has been performed 213 times in the Netherlands alone, spread over thirteen seasons. In all those performances, the dancers appeared in over 300 costumes and used some very special props.


After the St Nicholas celebration, Clara has only just fallen asleep when the keys of the piano in the living room are transformed into razor-sharp teeth. Anyone thinking a classical piano was a friendly instrument plays it at their own risk in this nightmare!


In the opening scene, the dancers skate gracefully across the ice – er, we mean the stage. Or should those special shoes actually be called skates, because they have wheels underneath?

Notenkraker en Muizenkoning
Photo: Angela Sterling

Nutcracker doll

In the theatre, all kinds of magic come to life. Yet this Nutcracker can walk even before a dancer takes over his role. Don’t tell anyone, but a prop technician in the wings operates the doll by remote control.


Hygiene comes first! In this bathtub, Clara has already been scrubbed clean 213 times since 1996. Then she’s all geared up for the St Nicholas party – and for the rest of the performance.

Notenkraker & Muizenkoning
Photo: Hans Gerritsen

More than 300 costumes, including:

20 masks
Mainly for the mice and their king, but also for a certain Nutcracker of course. For reasons of economy, the masks were made of papier mâché in 1996. Unfortunately, this material doesn’t last well, so it takes weeks to restore them every time – but they’re still in use today. Only the mask for the Mouse King has been replaced by a more durable model, as the original really was too sweaty.

50 hats
From bowler hats to turbans: neither the party-goers in the first act nor the dancers from around the world in the second act would feel complete without their matching headgear.

56 pairs of children’s shoes
Although luckily, they can take them off again after the party, when it’s pyjama time!

90 tutus
For the magical corps de ballet of snowflakes, among others.

And… vodka!

Vodka is used here not as a prop or a drink, but to clean the costumes. The costume department can get through a whole bottle per performance. Cheers – here’s to clean laundry!