Sharing Gum Drops and Sugar Plum Fairies at the Historic Warner Grand Theater

Every year at this time I try to fit in at least one Christmas-related musical program or holiday-themed activity. One year we went to see the theater production of “Holiday Inn,” complete with Irving Berlin’s wonderful score.

Another time a friend and I went downtown to the Music Center and participated in the Messiah sing-along with the Los Angeles Master’s Chorale.

And then, of course, there’s The Nutcracker.

Over decades I’ve attended many performances of The Nutcracker, a sure staple of the holiday season.

I’ve enjoyed mini-versions with preschoolers dressed as pint-sized sugar-plum fairies and baby mice, professional ballet troupes in classical performances, and even the “Nutcracker on Ice,” with the story told through interpretive ice skating featuring Olympic skaters in the major roles.

This past week, however, I enjoyed a special occasion with my granddaughters at their first opportunity to enjoy The Nutcracker.

San Pedro City Ballet celebrated their 20th Anniversary of The Nutcracker in the historic Warner Grand Theater. The Warner Grand Theatre opened on January 20, 1931, and became the first sound-equipped theater in the South Bay.

Jack Warner, Jr., one of  four famed “Warner Brothers,”  dubbed the theater “The Castle of Your Dreams,” and it still has that same charm. This ornate theater is one of only three remaining Warner theaters from that era, and the only one completely intact, due to a very active community interest and renovation project.

And The Warner Grand, purchased by the City of Los Angeles and placed on the National Register of Historic Places is an excellent representative of the exquisite art deco-movie palace style popular in the 1930s.

Even with very good balcony seats offering a birds-eye view of the beautiful sets and costumes, I was still curious to see if the girls’ attention would hold.

For one thing, the performance didn’t start on time.

Aimee overheard some of the commotion and returned to her seat saying,  “People are saying they should have a seat because their children are performing. I guess they’re claiming they’re related to a Gum Drop.”

That’s now my favorite shorthand for people asserting themselves into situations with assumed entitlement. “They’re related to a Gum Drop.”

Eventually everyone was settled and we were delighted with an excellent, very professionally produced performance. The girls weren’t restless, they didn’t fall asleep, and to our delight they were very enthusiastic. I think we may have a new tradition.

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And I was pleased the girls enjoyed their first ballet in such a beautiful old theater.

Papa didn’t go with us to The Nutcracker, but was awarded a coveted seat to his own holiday performance– at the elementary school.

Seating was limited to two people per ticket, but as is always the case, parents arrived with extra people, making it a very full house. For some, rules don’t apply– perhaps they were also related to a Gum Drop!


Sophia’s hat and winter clothing were her costume in the school’s musical performance. It was probably 70 degrees outside, but Southern California school children have at least one opportunity a year to pretend they live in a “Winter Wonderland.”

Are you enjoying any special traditions this season?

Do you have a favorite holiday musical or theater performance?

Are you related to a Gum Drop?