MUST SEEREVIEWSTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

The Nutcracker

Conceived and Choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon.

Music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

Produced by the Joffrey Ballet.

Music by the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra.

Conducted by Scott Speck.

At the Auditorium Theatre, Chicago.

Refreshingly new version of a classic has a definite Chicago flavor.

After many years of successfully mounted Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s fabulous score into a vivid Holiday treat, Christopher Wheeldon has conceived and choreographed a worthy world premiere production of  The Nutcracker. The freshness of this version works seamlessly with the Russian’s well-know score. This concept centers about a couple of children anticipating a world event-The 1893 Chicago Colombian World’s Exposition set to open in 5 months from Christmas Eve 1892.

Act one features joyous holiday music with an Eastern European (Polish?) flair as Tchaikovsky’s folksy music allows the folks to dance ethnic style. The celebration of the holidays and the anticipation of the Exposition fuels hope and optimism for all. The Great Impresario and his apprentice Peter arrive to add to the joy of the evening. Young Marie awakens to the classic battle between the toy soldiers and the mice. Marie wins the battle and with Peter now a prince set sail into the night.

Act Two, the two arrive at the World’s Fair and they move from pavilion to pavilion where each country dances in their traditions. As the dream ends, Marie awakens to find that it is Christmas Day. She enjoyed her dreams as all children should.

The dazzling costumes, the fabulous set design and the vivid video projections are a refreshing addition to the world-class dances that The Jeffery always provides. At about two hours, this fast-paced whimsical ballet is kid-friendly and adult approved. If you are worn-out by the old version of The Nutcracker, take heed, the world premiere Chicago based concept will blow you away. The choreography, while dedicated to the best of the past also has some new twists that are refreshing. The Chicago Philharmonic sounds terrific. This production is a “must see” that will re instill your enjoyment of The Nutcracker. Depending on the performance will attend the cast of dancers will always be the best available from the world-class Joffrey.

Highly Recommended.

Tom Williams.

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