The Nutcracker Challenge 

How well do you know Richmond Ballet's holiday extravaganza?

click to enlarge SCOTT ELMQUIST

The Richmond Ballet's acclaimed production of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" comes to life at Richmond Carpenter Theatre at CenterStage from Dec. 16-26. Sure, you've enjoyed this local holiday staple many times, but how aware are you of the cold hard facts about the big show, which was cited by The New York Times as one of the best productions of the oft-performed ballet in the country?

Test yourself with the Nutcracker Challenge. Which of the following are true, honest-to-Clara facts, and which are false, near-actionable lies:

1. Fifty pounds of Sno-Caps candy are used in each "Nutcracker" performance.

2. More than 10,000 pounds of scenery and lighting hang overhead.

3. Each year, it takes a special vacuum-tube conveyor belt, snaking through the streets of Richmond, to move the 400 tons of "Nutcracker" sets and props to the Carpenter Theatre.

4. 126 loads of laundry are done during the 10-day run of the ballet.

5. Nearly 15,000 tissues are used to wipe sweat away from dancers prior to entrances.

6. "The Nutcracker" was nearly canceled last year because of Richmond's new dancing regulations. But Christmas was saved at the last minute when City Council narrowly passed a special "Nutcracker" exemption ordinance.

7. The Mother Ginger costume is so large that it must be suspended from the ceiling backstage until she's ready for her entrance.

8. Richmond Ballet dancers must endure a bizarre hazing ritual involving sugarplums, pine needles and duct tape (don't ask) before they're allowed to dance "The Nutcracker."

9. Dancers don't say "break a leg" before performances to wish each other good luck, as theater performers do. Instead, they say merde, a French curse word.

10. Richmond Ballet's "The Nutcracker" holds the world record for dry ice usage, beating out Pink Floyd's final tour.

Answers: 1. False 2. True 3. False 4. True 5. True 6. False 7. True 8. False 9. True (weirdly enough) 10. False.

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