When you hear the familiar notes of Tchaikovsky’s score to The Nutcracker Ballet, you know that the holiday season is underway. Whether attending The Nutcracker is a beloved annual event for your family or you are taking your little one for the first time, the timeless holiday fairytale continues to delight all ages as it has done for more than a century.
If you live in the Chicago area, chances are that there’s a performance of The Nutcracker near you. Here are performances of the Nutcracker by 10 different ballets in 16 different locations, including four that my daughter and I have attended over the years.
Nov. 28, 29 – Hinsdale Central Auditorium, 55th and Grant St., Hinsdale
Dec. 5 – Center for Performing Arts Governors State University, 1 University Pkwy., University Park
Dec. 12, 13 – North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie
You can take your favorite little dancer to the Sugar Plum Party following the 1 p.m. performance in Hinsdale on Nov. 29. In addition to refreshments and crafts, guests can meet the Nutcracker characters at the unique onstage experience. Each performance features acclaimed guest artists.
Nov. 28, 29 – Batavia Fine Arts Centre, 1201 Main St., Batavia
Lavish sets and gorgeous costumes transport audience members to a holiday wonderland. If you and your family members want to get a closer look at what goes on behind the scenes, consider upgrading to VIP tickets, which include photos with select cast members and a look backstage following the performance.
Nov. 29 – Rialto Square Theatre, 15 E. Van Buren St., Joliet
Dec. 14 – Danville Symphony Orchestra, Danville
Dec. 19, 20 – McAninch Arts Center (MAC) at the College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn
The battle between the tin soldiers and the mice, and the journey through the land of whirling snowflakes add to the excitement of this production. My daughter and I saw this last year at the MAC and my daughter was a big fan of the professional dancers and beautiful costuming.
Dec. 4-27 – The Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Pkwy., Chicago
This is your last chance to see Robert Joffrey’s version of this holiday favorite as the Joffrey has commissioned a new “Nutcracker” from choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, which will have its world premiere in Chicago next year. The Chicago Philharmonic performs Tchaikovsky’s score live, adding to this sumptuous performance. My daughter is so very eager for our return trip this year.
Dec. 6 – Rosemont Theater, 5400 North River Road, Rosemont
The Nutcracker ballet first premiered on December 17, 1892, in Moscow, Russia, so it is only appropriate to see this performance that showcases the richness of Russian classical dance with almost 40 dancers. The Great Russian Nutcracker production is known for its dedication to world peace: naming Act II the “Land of Peace and Harmony;” featuring a rose shooting cannon and a stunning “Dove of Peace” with a 20′ wingspan.
Dec. 5, 6 – Libertyville High School
Dec. 11, 12 – Genesee Theatre
If you have a little one who wants to see the show but isn’t great at sitting still for long periods of time, consider attending the performance on Saturday, Dec. 5, at 10 a.m. It is a shortened version designed specifically for young audiences and runs just 60 minutes.
Dec. 4-13 – Prairie Center for the Arts, 201 Schaumburg Court, Schaumburg
With over 140 performers, including professional dancers and guest artists, there is a lot to see at this performance. It also features live narration, which makes following the story easier for younger ones or those unfamiliar with the story. I have to admit that I was a wee bit wary of the idea of the narration before seeing this production, but I didn’t mind it at all and felt that it helped my young daughter understand the plot better and kept her from asking, “What’s happening?” in the loud whisper that would likely have disturbed our seatmates.
Dec. 5, 6 at Northeastern Illinois University, 5500 N. St. Louis Avenue, Chicago
Dec. 12, 13 at The Ravinia Festival, Bennett Gordon Hall, 200 Ravinia Park Road, Highland Park (SOLD OUT)
The Ruth Page Civic Ballet’s popular recreation of this holiday classic celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The production recreates highlights from Ruth Page’s beloved original full-length staging.
Dec. 12, 13 – Dominican University Performing Arts Center, Lund Auditorium, 7900 West Division, River Forest
This marks the 31st year that Ballet Legere has presented The Nutcracker Ballet in its entirety. Guest Artists Shelby Elsbree and Paul Craig of The Boston Ballet will dance the Grand Pas de Deux.
Dec. 12-20 – Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago
This performance at the lovely Athenaeum Theatre on the city’s North side lasts 90 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission and features charming choreography and celebrates all the joys of the season. It has a very special place in my heart as it was the very first Nutcracker that I took my daughter to, over a decade ago. It’s a tradition we both enjoy and has created memories that we both treasure.