Patrons to this month’s 26-performance run of The Nutcracker presented by the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (including the lucky winners of this month’s annual Pediatric Alliance ticket contest) will find plenty local references to keep them on their toes. Sara Bauknecht gives us a taste of this “Pittsburgh-flavored fairy tale”:


Weaving together the many Pittsburgh ties was “a gigantic puzzle,” Mr. Orr says. A proscenium clock modeled after the iconic Downtown Kaufmann’s clock, an old Heinz delivery truck and a mansion inspired by the former F.W. McKee house in Shadyside are some of the easiest ones to identify, but the performance is packed with more subtle ones, too. For instance, the kilt worn by Mr. McTavish in the party scene is designed from the same style of tartan fabric worn by industrialist Andrew Carnegie, while names on some packages are nods to PBT friends and supporters…

On Sundays when the Steelers play, rats in the battle scene dash onto the stage waving Terrible Towels. Keep your eyes peeled in the party scene -— magic tricks are sprinkled throughout and local celebrities from Hines Ward to Mr. McFeely of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” have made cameo appearances.


PBT’s sensory-friendly performance of The Nutcracker will be held on December 27 at the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Pittsburgh. For the fourth consecutive year, Pediatric Alliance is raffling off tickets to see this special show. When we introduced the contest last week, we explained what makes the show “sensory-friendly”:

What makes it “sensory-friendly?”

A friendly, supportive environment for families with a loved one with special needs. Adaptations to the performance are slight, including:

  • lower sound levels
  • elimination of potentially startling special effects and lighting
  • house lights on at about 20%


PLUS, at this performance we have:

  • relaxed house rules–you are free to get up, move around, and leave whenever you need to
  • allowed use of iPads and other electronics for therapeutic use
  • volunteers scattered throughout the theater to assist and direct audience members as needed
  • quiet areas and activity areas in the lobby for taking a break
  • fidget objects and ear plugs available
  • trained staff, dancers, ushers and volunteers


Here is a terrific video from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre showing what a wonderful opportunity this performance is for a special group of children and their families to enjoy a night out on the town:


Here are the instructions for how to enter the Pediatric Alliance ticket contest for the sensory-friendly performance of The Nutcracker on December 27:

How to Enter the Pediatric Alliance Ticket Contest:

Type the following information in the comments box below this post (this information will not be shared):
— Parent Name and Email address
— Child’s Name
— Number of tickets desired (2-6 per family)

OR, you can email the information above to

(In order to respect your privacy, we discourage entering this contest via Facebook. But please keep up with our daily PediaBlog posts on Pediatric Alliance’s Facebook page!)

We will accept one entry per family per day, but you can enter every day until we pick the winners!

Winners will be picked randomly this Friday, December 9, 2016 so we can get tickets to families before the performance.


Remember: Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre has 25 other performances of The Nutcracker that your family may want to enjoy. Dates and ticket information here.


(Image: Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre)