Tis the season for winter classics and Chicago is nuts
with Nutcrackers. But like those mixed bowls where the good ones
get gobbled up, not all nuts or Nutcrackers are created
equal. There's a plethora of Nutcracker productions to
choose from and we've seen many over the years, from Nutcracker on
horseback to extravagant ballets and tiny storefront productions.
Here at ChiIL Out, we're featuring two of our absolute favorites of
the 2011 season. These are two extremely different takes on this
timeless tale, and both are excellent and highly recommended.
This year, ChiIL Mama has exclusive dress rehearsal footage and
video interviews with cast kids from the #1 Nutcracker in
the nation by Joffrey Ballet. They're performing at
Auditorium Theatre through December 27th. We have our show review,
original and production photos, and a great group interview.
We love to feature creative kids from the greater Chicago area.
Click the link to hear how these talented, young ballerinas get rid
of the pre-show jitters, how young they were when they began
ballet, how long they've practiced to be in Joffrey's Nutcracker,
and some wise advice to other kids who wish they were in these
lucky girls' ballet shoes.
This is THE Nutcracker to see, for a larger than life, full
blown, ballet version with the original score, expertly performed
by a full orchestra. Joffrey has updated and enhanced the setting
in fabulous ways, but this production remains true to the original
score, script and choreography. Check out our in depth coverage here.
We also adore The House Theatre's
Nutcracker, and evidently so do many others as
their shows have been selling out and they've added additional dates twice now.
ChiIL Mama highly recommends this production
as a great, family friendly experience. Check out our past coverage here for a video and
I've seen a number of versions of The Nutcracker over the
years, ranging from the classic ballet in ornate symphony centers,
complete with chandeliers, to the free and fabulous, DIY Dance
Along Nutcracker at The Cultural Center. However, this is
undoubtedly my favorite. This funky, edgy, urban update is entirely
welcome in a season of saccharine sweet holiday
The plot is darker than the original, with the death of
Clara's older brother, who was a Marine, and her subsequent
haunting. And the rat king scene is intense, with giant
multi-headed rat puppets and three of the set walls cracking open.
Even Sagezilla, who is a pretty fearless 8-year-old, closed her
eyes and clung tightly to me. My 10-year-old son was a bit creeped
out, but did watch the whole scene. After the show, though, both
kids were very enthusiastic about the production and both said they
Purists, should know there is no ballet in this version,
and all the old, familiar songs are gone. But the new songs are
wonderfully creative, and the depth and emotion of this
multifaceted production makes it a compelling and completely unique
take on this classic holiday tale. You'll even get to take home a
paper ornament for your tree: a globe, a bell, or maybe even a RAT,
if you're lucky.
Check out our fulll, photo filled review here.
Bonnie Kenaz-Mara is a writer-photographer-potter-painter-actress-animal wrangler-general creatrix and Mama to two amazing kiddos.
See more of Bonnie's stories here.
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