The Washington Ballet’s Nutcracker Guest Stars Include Ryan Zimmerman, the Racing Presidents, and Tony Kornheiser

The Washington Ballet’s Nutcracker Guest Stars Include Ryan Zimmerman, the Racing Presidents, and Tony Kornheiser
The Nationals' Racing Presidents perform during the Washington Ballet's production of The Nutcracker. Screenshot via YouTube.

If you can’t wait until next spring to re-engage with the Washington Nationals, consider buying a ticket to the Washington Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker this month. The team’s Racing Presidents and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman will be making walk-on appearances during a couple of performances of the holiday staple, as will a few other local dignitaries.

As much as Julie Kent, who took over as the Washington Ballet’s artistic director in late 2016, has changed up the dance company, she’s kept up the cameo-stuffed, Revolutionary War-themed take on The Nutcracker launched by her predecessor, Septime Webre, who ran the ballet for the previous 17 years. For nearly a decade, the show has included spot appearances by local politicians, television-news personalities, and at least once a year since 2010, the Racing Presidents, who’ll be making their annual performance during Tuesday’s show. (They traditionally appear at the beginning of the second act.) Zimmerman, who lives in the Washington area year-round, will follow his mascot compatriots during a matinee performance on December 23.

Webre’s version of The Nutcracker transplants the story from a Tsarist Russia fantasyland to 19th-century Georgetown, with plenty of American folklore tossed in—the title character resembles George Washington and the villainous Rat King is made to look like King George III, fighting it out on a cherry blossom-bedecked set.

Most guest stars might not be ready to dance, though, judging from how another upcoming cameo performer, radio host Tony Kornheiser, bemoaned his upcoming turn during his broadcast last Friday.

“It says, ‘Please come in black tie.’ I’m not going to do that,” Kornheiser said about the Washington Ballet’s instructions for what will be a very brief appearance as an ambassador during the show’s first scene. (Kornheiser’s excuse for not wearing a tuxedo: he’ll be heading to the Warner Theatre from the train station, wearing whatever he had on during that day’s episode of his ESPN show, Pardon the Interruption.)

“I want to get out of there early,” Kornheiser said on his radio broadcast. “Nobody’s coming to see me.”

Eleanor Holmes Norton, DC’s delegate to the House of Representatives, is scheduled to appear on Friday.

Get Our Weekend Newsletter

The best DC news, delivered straight to your inbox.
Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.