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Project information

The Nutcracker Costume Refurbishment

In 1990 Sir Peter Wright created The Nutcracker as a gift to the city of Birmingham, and to this day it remains our most popular and best-loved production. After nearly 30 years the costumes are in urgent need of refurbishment to keep them sparkling for future generations to enjoy.

January 2019 - November 2019

Charity information: Birmingham Royal Ballet

Birmingham Royal Ballet logo
  • Need


    The Nutcracker is Birmingham Royal Ballet's most popular ballet, seen by the most people each year and with more performances than any other work. Over time the Birmingham Royal Ballet costume department has spent countless hours repairing the costumes and keeping them looking as fresh and bright as possible. After nearly 30 years of performances this is becoming more and more difficult and a major refurbishment, including many new costumes to replace those beyond repair, is now required.


    Our costume team have done a full assessment of the hundreds of items of clothing worn by the company for The Nutcracker. Of these many will need to be remade, some will need a thorough refurbishment, and others will need new trousers, headwear or other complementary items. This work, which will be carried out by Birmingham Royal Ballet's own world-leading costume department, will ensure that our Nutcracker costumes are ready to entertain audiences for another 30 years to come.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Ensure that our Nutcracker costumes look as good as designer John Macfarlane originally envisioned.


    » Remake in-house for most pieces, however tutus will still need to be produced by an external specialist maker.
    » Refurbish and repair those pieces that do not require full remake but need extensive repair work.

    What success will look like

    The success of the objective will be apparent to anyone who sees the costumes once they have been remade and refurbished, looking as magical as the day they were first created.

    Aim 2

    Build our in-house skills for the creation of replacement costumes.


    » We want to develop our costume team's skills in restoration and remaking in order to present world-class costumes across our diverse repertoire.

    What success will look like

    This project will see a transformation in our costume team from a maintenance and repair function to one able to recreate whole costumes from scratch.

    Aim 3

    Prepare Birmingham Royal Ballet's production of The Nutcracker for new audiences in new venues.


    » We want our Nutcracker costumes to look fantastic in any venue, whether up close or from the gods. This project will make that possible.

    What success will look like

    By ensuring that the costumes look fantastic in any venue and setting, we will be able to take this popular production into new venues and spaces.

    Aim 4

    Ensure that all costumes for The Nutcracker are comfortable and safe for our dancers to wear.


    » By applying the latest techniques in headdress, masks and costumes we will ensure all new pieces are both comfortable to dance in and safe to wear

    What success will look like

    Dancers' health and wellbeing will always be our primary concern. These new costumes will be designed with this commitment at the forefront.

  • Impact


    In 2017 we performed The Nutcracker for the first time outside of Birmingham, at the Royal Albert Hall in London, performing to an audience of thousands. Many of the people in attendance had never before seen a Birmingham Royal Ballet production and we know that performing in new venues and settings is the best way for us to engage new audiences. Updating our spectacular yet durable costumes will help us to bring our most popular and accessible production to even more people around the country.


    While we have completed an initial assessment to determine the amount of work required to restore the costumes, there is a possibility that upon commencing the project that more costumes than expected will be found to have deteriorated beyond repair thereby requiring total replacement. This could lead to greater costs associated with the project. Birmingham Royal Ballet is committed to carrying out this work and has set aside a contingency to mitigate any associated risks.


    We will report on the progress of the refurbishment through our supporter publications Entrechat and To the Pointe. We will invite supporters to an on-stage dress rehearsal in Birmingham before the opening night performance. We will also share stories about the refurbishment on our digital channels

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £162,400

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £53,600 Snowflake Costumes 32 Snowflake costumes need to be completely remade
      £13,000 Columbine and Harlequin 3 costumes remade for Columbine and Harlequin
      £8,000 Jack in the Box 3 Jack in the Box costumes to be remade
      £6,600 Prince as Nutcracker These costumes require a full refurbishment
      £5,000 Sugar Plum Fairy 8 Sugar Plum tutus need refurbishment
      £2,000 King Rat Coat and breeches need refurbishment
      £50,700 Other costume remakes Including Cadets, Rose Fairy Consorts, Winds, Male Children and Chinese dancers
      £23,500 Other costume refurbishments Including Mirletons, Trepak and Spanish Girls and Boys
  • Background


    All of the remakes and refurbishments will be carried out by our costume team which we have developed over the last number of years in order to build and grow this skill base in the West Midlands.

    The Nutcracker will be performed to our regular audiences at Christmas in Birmingham and also in our new location of The Royal Albert Hall in London. We aim to be able to perform our Nutcracker in other venues of differing sizes, bringing our work to new audiences across the UK.


    Audiences will be able to continue to see this wonderful production in its original magnificence.

    Birmingham Royal Ballet's costume makers will develop their skills in refurbishment and remaking of costumes, developing this important skill base in the West Midlands.

    For specialist pieces including tutus, we will continue to work with external specialists, thereby encouraging and supporting these crafts.

    Our dancers will have costumes and headpieces that are comfortable and safe.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Birmingham Royal Ballet are the custodians of the world's only production of The Nutcracker choreographed by Sir Peter Wright with designs from John Macfarlane and ours is widely regarded as the definitive version of this great work.

    Birmingham Royal Ballet is the UK's largest full scale touring ballet company and is therefore well placed to take all or part of this great production to communities across the country.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    John Macfarlane - Original Designer Of The Nutcracker

    The original designer John Macfarlane will provide oversight and guidance to ensure this work continues to express his original vision.

    Elaine Garlick - Birmingham Royal Ballet Head Of Costume

    Elaine is a costume supervisor with over 15 years' experience at BRB and the Royal Opera House. She has worked with John Macfarlane on The Magic Flute

    Birmingham Royal Ballet's Costume Team

    With 10 makers and technicians, this team has grown in recent years as we seek to independently develop this unique skill base in the West Midlands.