Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Holiday shows: The Joffrey's Nutcracker (through Dec 27)

If it's December, it's holiday show time.  Holiday shows are a substantial portion of a non-profit arts budget.  They are something you do every year, and your patrons come every year, as a tradition.

If you are a theatre, you are probably performing some version of Christmas Carol. (Or Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales) If you are a chorus, you are probably performing some version of Handel's Messiah.  And if you are the ballet, you are probably doing the Nutcracker.  Which means it should come as no surprise that we attended the opening night of the Joffrey Ballet's excellent Nutcracker last week.  I can highly recommend it.

It is exactly what you want in a holiday show like this.  It was full of genius dancers in amazing costumes, music by the Chicago Philharmonic, large and beautiful sets, falling snow that could be out of a snow globe, and a corps of dancers that includes 118 school children from all over Chicago-Land getting to dance in the big leagues.  Everything was marvelous.

Robert Joffrey
The Joffrey  has been doing this ballet year in and year out with Robert Joffrey's choreography since 1987.  The choreography is stellar, and gives the dancers plenty of room to strut their virtuosity while telling the story of Clara, Dr. Drosselmeyer, and the legion of sugar plum fairies, toy soldiers, and mice that make up this classic ballet.  I am sure that each year the sets and costumes get tweaked and made even more fabulous.  And if you are a young dancer, this is the plume in your cap-- to get to perform in the Nutcracker with the Joffrey on the big stage of the sumptuous Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University.

Here's a great video done a couple of years ago showing kid's reactions to this Nutcracker:

But doing the same thing every year gets old, and while recognizing tradition, (and undoubtedly the box office benefits) the Joffrey isn't afraid to change it up a little either.  This year is the last year of the classic choreography.  Next year, they've commissioned a brand new choreography from master dance director (and winner of the Tony Award for his stunning production of An American In Paris) Christopher Wheeldon.  Which is exciting on a number of levels, not least of which is that it is now the LAST time you'll be able to see the classic Robert Joffrey choreography of this essential ballet.  (And of course, next year, you'll be able to see the World Premiere of a master artist's take on the stalwart classic)  

Any which way you slice it, it should translate into boffo (and well-deserved) box office for the Joffrey.

If you haven't been to the Nutcracker for a while, this is your last chance to see the classic.  Next year it will be all new, (and having seen An American In Paris on Broadway) equally wonderful.


The Joffrey Ballet performs The Nutcracker at Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre Friday, December 4 through  Sunday, December 27.  The full schedule is:  Friday, Dec. 4, 7 pm; Saturday, Dec. 5, 2 pm and 7 pm; Sunday, Dec. 6, 2 pm; Thursday, Dec. 10, 7 pm; Friday, Dec. 11, 7 pm; Saturday, Dec. 12, 2 pm and 7 pm; Sunday, Dec. 13, 1 pm and 6 pm; Thursday, Dec. 17, 7 pm; Friday, Dec. 18, 7 pm; Saturday, Dec. 19, 2 pm and 7 pm; Sunday, Dec. 20, 2 pm and 7 pm; Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2 pm and 7 pm; Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2 pm and 7 pm; Thursday, Dec. 24, 2 pm; Saturday, Dec. 26, 2 pm and 7 pm; and Sunday Dec. 27, 2 pm.


Tickets range from $32-$136 and are available at The Joffrey Ballet’s official Box Office located in the  lobby of Joffrey Tower, 10 E. Randolph Street, as well as the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University box office, all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, by telephone at (800) 982-2787 or online at

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