The Joffrey Ballet’s critically-acclaimed reimagined classic, The Nutcracker by Tony Award®-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, returns to celebrate the magic of the 2023 holiday season! Wheeldon’s American tale relocates Marie and her immigrant family to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, where Marie embarks on a whirlwind adventure with the Nutcracker Prince.
The ballet is set in two magical acts set to Tchaikovsky’s classic, memorable musical score. It also features an award-winning creative team, including Tony Award®-nominated set and costume designer Julian Crouch, Caldecott Medal Award-winning author Brian Selznick, Obie and Drama Desk award-winning puppeteer Basil Twist, Tony Award®-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz and Tony Award®-winning projection designer Ben Pearcy/59 Productions.
Although I saw the new production last winter, it was delightful to see it again. The new theme of having the Nutcracker take place in Chicago during the 1893 World’s Fair was creatively original, providing the classic ballet story with a refreshing new perspective. Being a native Chicagoan myself, it was very enjoyable to have the ballet pay homage to my home city. With the Joffrey Ballet performing The Nutcracker at the Lyric Opera, it just does not get better than that!
The Nutcracker was beautifully perfected with the talented diverse cast of dancers, the amazing Lyric Opera orchestra, the dazzling costumes and the amazing special effects and stage design. The dancers are from a wide variety of countries all over the world including the United States, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, United Kingdom, South Korea, Georgia, Australia, Spain, The Philippines, Puerto Rico, Italy, Cuba and Estonia. I think the diverse cast enhances the Chicago World’s Fair theme, as Chicago is known as a melting pot of different cultures, traditions, countries and languages.
The Nutcracker takes place during the World’s Fair, while showcasing breathtakingly beautiful backgrounds, as if you are really traveling back in time to the fair itself. The set was mesmerizing, offering multi-layered projections that were utilized to create dynamic visual elements incredibly well integrated into the performances on stage.
Besides the wonderful dancers, set/stage design, music and orchestra, the dance numbers themselves and the costumes were breathtaking. The lovely movements of each carefully choreographed dance were dazzling to watch.
It was also a joy to watch the tiniest ballet dancers, the children, who throughout the show added adorable comedy to the production. My friend and I found ourselves laughing constantly when the young dancers came out, especially when they danced as nuts!
The Nutcracker is always a purely delightful experience. The timeless ballet and Tchaikovsky’s music never get old and it remains a firm tradition during the winter holidays. The Joffrey Ballet’s version is one of the best I have ever seen, and you should not miss it!
Photos: Katie Miller
Single tickets start at $40 and are available for purchase online at the Joffrey Ballet website, or telephone at 312.386.8905.
December 2–27, 2023
Lyric Opera House
20 N. Wacker Dr.
Performance Running Time:
2 hours including a 20 minute intermission