Dance-Along Nutcracker is back live and in person!

You’re invited to the Stahlbaum family’s annual Christmas Eve party! Experience the magic when a blizzard hits San Francisco, turning the party into a surprise winter wonderland. 

You’ll waltz! You’ll march! You’ll pirouette! You’ll sing along! Through it all, you’ll enjoy music from The Nutcracker ballet, performed live by the 75-piece San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, the Official Band of San Francisco!

Part comedy musical, part dance-it-yourself ballet, and part symphonic concert, the Dance-Along Nutcracker features the holiday fun and tradition you’ve come to expect from this San Francisco favorite, live and in person for the first time since 2019.

Read more about health & safety at the show

Visitors to the event venue, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, must comply with health and safety requirements which are summarized below, but could change depending on local health conditions.

Masks are strongly recommended but not required while indoors. Proof of vaccination or a negative test are not required to enter, but in conjunction with SFDPH, YBCA encourages everyone to get vaccinated and boosted for their own health and for the well-being of the community.

The San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band takes Covid-19 seriously. See the band’s full Health & Safety Plan for more information.

Get Tickets

Reserve your spot on the guest list by purchasing tickets below! There are four identical showings at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum (701 Mission St, SF): Saturday December 17 at 3pm & 7pm, Sunday December 18 at 11am & 3pm.

Having trouble with the registration application above? Click here to visit a standalone registration site

Special Thanks to Our 2022 Sponsors

With individual sponsorship by:

Michael L. Mehr

Mike, Jordan, Dante, and Trixie Schlemmer

Larry K. Hetrick, MD

Moira Wilmes & Denni Harp

Linda Werner & Nancy Johnsen

Joel Shapiro

Ken and Jerry Patterson

Ian Gerrard

Interested in becoming a sponsor? Download our Sponsorship Packet for more information.

Performers & Cast

San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band

Founded in 1978 by Jon Sims at the height of Anita Bryant’s anti-gay crusade and credited as the first openly-gay music organization in the world, the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band has inspired the formation of many LGBTQ+ choruses and performing troupes world-wide. Named the “Official Band of San Francisco” in 2018, the band has promoted visibility and built understanding between gay and non-gay communities through public musical performances for over 40 years.

Each year, the band presents its award-winning Community Concert Series, its beloved fun-filled holiday production, Dance-Along Nutcracker, and performs at numerous parades and civic events throughout the Bay Area, with Artistic Directors Pete Nowlen and Mike Wong.

Learn more about the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band

Alix Feinsod

as Clara

Alix is a performer and teacher based in Oakland. Alix has been performing in musicals around the Bay Area all her life with Stagedoor, YMTC, The Marsh, and The Thrillpeddlers. She also writes and directs plays for her students to perform. In past years, Alix designed costumes for the Magic Theater and other companies. She is so excited to be in her third Dance Along Nutcracker!

Crystal Liu

as Drosselmeyer

Crystal Liu is a San Francisco Bay Area-based theatre artist and music nerd, and thrilled to be a part of the Dance-Along Nutcracker! She has felt and witnessed the healing powers of theatre from the age of nine and has sought to deepen her understanding of the craft ever since. Crystal has performed with, worked backstage for, and held administrative positions in theater companies and youth theatre programs all over the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds BAs in Theater and Anthropology from Yale University and is particularly interested in theatre that focuses on education, youth, and marginalized communities. Recent performance credits include Lady Macbeth in Macbeth (Theatre Rhinoceros), Betty 2 in Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties (Pear Theatre), and various roles in Terror-Rama IV: In Space! (Awesome Theatre).

Zelda Koznofski

as Mrs. Stahlbaum

Zelda is a singer/composer/actor. Zelda records and releases original music as well as scores for original film and stage productions with band Gelb Rot Blau and performs at SF’s premier nightclub Oasis in drag parodies and musicals. Favorite roles include Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in Star Trek Live, Giles in Buffy Live: Once More With Feeling, Judy Garland in Tuck’n’ Roll Players’ Club.

Jas Cook

as Lucy

Jas Cook (they/them) is a local Bay Area drag queen, dancer, performer, and teacher. They are so excited to join this wonderful cast! The holidays are so special and Jas is happy to bring this holiday classic to life. They would like to thank their partner Max, roommates Sarah and Kenn, and their family for all their support.

Laurent J.L. Hall

as Fritz

Laurent J.L. Hall (he/him/his) is a queer performer currently based in San Mateo with an extensive theater and dance background, having appeared in over 50 shows since he was five years old. Some of his favorite credits include: the arguably titular Achilles in ARISTOS: The Musical (Tartarus Productions), Benji in Edith Can Shoot Things And Hit Them (Pacifica Spindrift Players), and the Lead Peppermint in The Nutcracker (Studio 4 Dance Theater). In addition, he has 16 years of ballet training, currently with Haoexpression Studio, and several voice acting credits, most notably on the award-winning audio drama Station Arcadia (Nikki). Coming back to The Nutcracker after transitioning is not something he could have ever even dreamed of, and he’s more than honored to be here.

Allen Sawyer

Cast Director

Allen Sawyer, is a San Francisco-based playwright and director. He began his theatre career at the legendary Valencia Rose and also performed stand up at the Rose’s revolutionary Gay Comedy Open Mic.

Collaborating with John F. Karr, Sawyer created several musicals at Theatre Rhinoceros, notably Talking to the Sun, Dirty Dreams of a Clean Cut Kid, and Some Men Do. With the ArtFul Circle Theatre Sawyer helmed Jungle Red, Those Damn Calla Lilies, Christmas with the Crawfords, Way Out West, and Women’s Prison Christmas. He wrote and directed Gross Indulgences: The Trials of Liberace and Whatever Happened to Sister George. For his troupe the Hot Pants Homo Players, Sawyer penned a trilogy of plays, inspired by pulp paperbacks.

Sawyer has directed shows at Theatre Rhinoceros, The New Conservatory Theatre Center, Feinstein’s at The Nikko, and many other San Francisco venues. This is his third Dance Along Nutcracker.

Artistic director Pete Nowlen wearing a rainbow tie

Pete Nowlen

Artistic Director

Appointed Artistic Director of the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band in August 2013, Pete Nowlen is one of Northern California’s busiest musicians. He is the founder and driving force behind Sacramento’s VITA Academy, dedicated to revitalizing classical music through innovative community and audience engagement and school music programs. Other conducting credits includes the Sacramento, Auburn, Camellia, UCD and CSUS Symphonies and more than a dozen major productions ranging from La bohéme to the Rocky Horror Show. Pete was a member of the French horn section of the Sacramento Symphony for 10 years. He has performed with the San Francisco Symphony, Opera, and Ballet Orchestras, served as co-principal hornist of the International Orchestra of Italy, and has been a prize winner and finalist in international solo competitions.

What is Dance-Along Nutcracker?

Dance-Along Nutcracker is a holiday experience unlike anything else!

Each year, the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band blends Tchaikovsky’s classic The Nutcracker ballet with an entertaining theme. The result is a fun-filled original musical production brimming with wit, artistry and ingenuity. The talented cast sings and dances their way through a parody version of the Nutcracker. And when the “Dance Along!” sign flashes, the audience is invited to put on their tutus and sashay along with the cast. Even audience members who don’t want to dance have a blast!

Trumpet section in costume as the Weasley family from 2018’s Dance-Along Nutcracker
Clara and Fritz discuss all the exciting things they'll learn at Fogwarts Academy from 2018’s Dance-Along Nutcracker

Testimonials

Don’t just take our word for it, see what others are saying about the show!

Inspired foolishness, tomfoolery on a grand and witty scale!

C.W. NeviusSan Francisco Chronicle

One of the city’s most delightfully idiosyncratic events.

Wall Street Journal

I’m gonna tell my friends that I went to the Nutcracker and it’s not embarrassing at all to wear a tutu as a boy!

Dance-Along Nutcracker Attendee7-years old

Oh my God – it’s the best thing in the world! It’s the best holiday event there is!

Dance-Along Nutcracker Attendee since 1998

Beautifully unexpected and witty!

Dance-Along Nutcracker Attendee

Thank you for an amazing afternoon and a new family tradition.

Dance-Along Nutcracker® Attendee

It’s fun, it’s affordable and it’s uniquely San Francisco. This isn’t your grandma’s stuffy old Nutcracker…

Traci VaughnMilk + Fog

New to Dance-Along Nutcracker?

Here’s What to Expect…

Music treble clef
Live music from the classic Nutcracker Suite, plus many more fun tunes performed by the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band!
Theatre masks laughing and crying
An original musical theatre show performed by a talented cast of actors and dancers, featuring parody songs from famous musicals!
Silhouettes of people dancing holding hands
A chance to be part of the show when you put on your tutu and pirouette under the mirror ball to Tchaikovsky’s classic The Nutcracker ballet!
A family sits in the front row watching the Dance-Along Nutcracker actors perform

For Families

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It’s the perfect first live-music concert, especially for those kids who might not be able to sit still through a traditional Nutcracker ballet performance.

For Adults

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It’s the best way to feel like a kid again, as you tug on a tutu and twirl to the ‘Waltz of the Flowers’, or just people-watch!

Adults wearing tutus are having fun at the Dance-Along Nutcracker
Adults wearing tutus are having fun at the Dance-Along Nutcracker

For Adults

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It’s the best way to feel like a kid again, as you tug on a tutu and twirl to the ‘Waltz of the Flowers’, or just people-watch!

Audience members of all ages dancing to the Nutcracker Suite ballet music

For Everyone

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It’s a fun and uniquely San Francisco way to ring in the holiday season with friends and family!

Photo Gallery

San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band kicks off the Dance-Along Nutcracker show with the opening overture
The ballerina points the way to the buried treasure in 2017 Dance-Along Nutcracker: Nutcrackers of the Caribbean
Ballerina teaches a group of children a ballet dance
Evil Voldemouse sings about taking funding away from Fogwarts music program in 2018 Dance-Along Nutcracker: Clara Potter and the Elder Baton
Happy children dancing at the 2018 Dance-Along Nutcracker
A young audience member waits patiently for the Dance-Along Nutcracker show to begin
Clara and Fritz discuss all the exciting things they'll learn at Fogwarts Academy from 2018’s Dance-Along Nutcracker
Dancer spins a hula hoop on one arm while waving a magic wand with the other at 2018 Dance-Along Nutcracker: Clara Potter and the Elder Baton
Children with streamers dance to a Nutcracker Suite song
The final musical number with the full cast and dancers from the 2015 Dance-Along Nutcracker: Nutcrackers of Oz
Boy smiles for the camera while dancing to Nutcracker Suite music
The band poses for a group photo in full costume showing off their Dance-Along Nutcracker spirit
Show's cast dressed as life-size candy, soda, popcorn and a hot dog come out singing and dancing
The band kicks off the 2015 Dance-Along Nutcracker with the show overture
Adults wearing tutus dance to the Nutcracker Suite music being played live by the band
The cast laughs and yells out "Everyone knows there's no treasure on Treasure Island!" at 2017 Dance-Along Nutcracker: Nutcrackers of the Caribbean
A young guest conductor stands on a chair and keeps the band playing perfectly in time
Trumpet section in costume as the Weasley family from 2018’s Dance-Along Nutcracker

Show History

This zany San Francisco holiday tradition started in 1985 as a fundraiser to support the LGBTQ+ community and has evolved into the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band’s signature event!

Concocted in the spirit of the “Sing-It Yourself Messiah” by Wayne Fleisher, director of the SF Tap Troupe, and first directed by the Band’s conductor, Jay Kast, Dance-Along Nutcracker has been featured in national media, including NPR’s All Things Considered, The Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America, The Today Show, and many more!

Dance-Along Nutcracker truly exemplifies the mission of the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band: to promote LGBTQ+ visibility and build bridges among communities through public performance.

Below, you’ll find a photo gallery showcasing Dance-Along Nutcracker program covers spanning all the way back to the first show in 1985! You can find full PDF programs on the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band’s Program Archive page.