Review: The Nutcracker (Joffrey Ballet, 2017)

| December 6, 2017 | 0 Comments

The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago presents The Nutcracker at Auditorium Theatre 2017 4            
      

  

The Nutcracker
 
Choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon
Story adapted by Brian Selznick
Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress (map)
thru Dec 30  |  tix: $35 and up  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     


    
  

Joffrey gifts Chicago a homegrown holiday classic not to be missed

  

The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago presents The Nutcracker at Auditorium Theatre 2017 7

    
Joffrey Ballet of Chicago presents
    
The Nutcracker

Review by Lauren Whalen

Last year, the Joffrey Ballet gifted Chicago with the phenomenal premiere of a new Nutcracker. Choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, a living legend in the ballet world, the new take on the old classic brings the action to Chicago in the months before the 1893 World’s Fair. Rather than a privileged little girl in the midst of a fancy holiday The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago presents The Nutcracker at Auditorium Theatre 2017 4party, this Nutcracker’s protagonist is the daughter of an immigrant sculptress, who shares a pallet with her brother by the stove where it’s warm. Don’t worry: the battle between mice and toy soldiers is still present, as is the glorious snow scene and the candy-colored costumes, set to Tchaikovsky’s iconic score. Now in its second year, the Joffrey The Nutcracker is a gentle reminder to young and old that dreams are possible, good can triumph over evil, and love and beauty is everywhere if you just look for it.

Young Marie lives with her mischievous younger brother Franz and her mother near the grounds of what will be the historic World’s Fair. Her mother is sculpting the fair’s gold Columbine statue, and in the meantime, Marie is trying to keep her brother Franz away from a gang of teenage ruffians. When the family hosts a Christmas Eve party for their fellow fair laborers, the Grand Impresario – the dashing, mysterious brains behind the operation – makes a surprise appearance. After giving presents to workers’ children, the Grand Impresario gifts Marie with a nutcracker. Once Marie falls asleep, she has an epic dream that includes a battle of rats versus toys, a magical snowstorm, and the fair itself, complete with all the wonders of the world.

Miguel Angel Blanco and Amanda Assucena star in The Nutcracker, Joffrey Ballet 2017Christine Rocas and Fabrice Calmels star in The Nutcracker, Joffrey Ballet 2017 Miguel Angel Blanco and Amanda Assucena star in The Nutcracker at Joffrey Ballet 2017Children's Cast Members star in The Nutcracker, Joffrey Ballet 2017Victoria Jaiani and Miguel Blanco star in The Nutcracker, Joffrey Ballet 2017 The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago presents The Nutcracker at Auditorium Theatre 2017 5The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago presents The Nutcracker at Auditorium Theatre 2017 9b

Wheeldon’s Nutcracker, made specifically for the Joffrey Ballet, retains the most memorable elements of the classic ballet, with surprising and delightful new twists. Rather than wealthy individuals acquiring more things, the party guests are likely celebrating their first Christmas in America with nothing much except each other. The Grand Impresario retains the enigmatic qualities of Herr Drosselmeyer in the original, but has a loving, paternal air and genuinely cares for Marie, her family and his employees. And instead of the typical Land of the Sweets, the dancers represent different “countries” on display at the World’s Fair, from the elegance of Italy to the wild, wild West through Buffalo Bill and his saloon girls. Some may miss the Sugar Plum Fairy and Mother Ginger, but I welcome the changes, the sentimentality that never gets too sweet, and the wide-eyed wonder of Marie as she sees the endless potential of her new home.

Wheeldon’s choreography is exquisite as always, paying tribute to the old styles of ballet while infusing fresh, innovative energy. He’s acclaimed the world over, on Broadway as well as the ballet stage and it’s no wonder – out of any living choreographer, no one has the storytelling power Wheeldon possesses. Set and costume designer Julian Crouch puts a spin on the well-known pastels of the ballet, celebrating bright colors, bold patterns and the joy that lies ahead for Marie. Once again, the Joffrey Ballet proves their national treasure status, beautifully executing Wheeldon’s steps as if they’ve been dancing them all their lives. With its phenomenal design, story and dancing, this Nutcracker is a new holiday classic not to be missed.

  
Rating: ★★★★
  

The Nutcracker continues through December 30th at Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress (map).  Tickets are $35 and up, and are available by phone (312-341-2300) or online through their website (check for availability of half-price tickets). More information, including a complete performance schedule, at Joffrey.org(Running time: 2 hours, includes an intermission)

The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago presents The Nutcracker at Auditorium Theatre 2017 3

Photos by Cheryl Mann 


  

artists

cast

Note: casting varies according to performance (for casting, go to joffrey.org/nutcracker)

The Joffrey Ballet: Matthew Adamczyk, Derrick Agnoletti, Yoshihisa Arai, Amanda Assucena, Edson Barbosa, Miguel Angel Blanco, Evan Boersma, Anais Bueno, Fabrice Calmels, Raúl Casasola, Valeriia Chaykina, Nicole Ciapponi, Lucia Connolly, April Daly, Fernando Duarte, Olivia Duryea, Cara Marie Gary, Stefan Goncalvez, Luis Eduardo Gonzalez, Dylan Gutierrez, Rory Hohenstein, Dara Holmes, Riley Horton, Yuka Iwai, Victoria Jaiani, Hansol Jeong, Gayeon Jung, Yumi Kanazawa, Brooke Linford, Greig Matthews, Graham Maverick, Jeraldine Mendoza, Jacqueline Moscicke, Aaron Renteria, Christine Rocas, Chloé Sherman, Temur Suluashvili, Olivia Tang-Mifsud, Alonso Tepetzi, Elivelton Tomazi, Alberto Velazquez, Joanna Wozniak, Joan Sebastián Zamora

behind the scenes

For The Nutcracker: Christopher Wheeldon (choreography), Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky (Music), Ljova (Act I Party Scene Music arranged by), Brian Selznick (story), Julian Crouch (set and costume design, mask creation), Natasha Katz (lighting design), Basil Twist (puppetry, puppet construction), 59 Productions (projection design), Jacquelin Barrett (choreographer’s assistant), Anastacia Holden, Suzanne Lopez and Michael Smith (children’s ballet masters), Frank McCullough (assistant scenic designer), Jon Goldman (assistant lighting designer), Tandem Otter Productions (puppetry and effects built by), Cheryl Mann (photos)

For The Joffrey Ballet: Ashley Wheater (artistic director), Greg Cameron (executive director), Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino (founders), Scott Speck (music director), Gerard Charles (director of artistic operations, ballet master), Nicolas Blanc (ballet master, principal coach), Adam Blyde, Suzanne Lopez (ballet masters), Grace Kim and Michael Moricz (company pianists)

Amanda Assucena and Children's Cast Members star in The Nutcracker, Joffrey BalletVictoria Jaiani stars in The Nutcracker, Joffrey Ballet 2017The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago presents The Nutcracker at Auditorium Theatre 2017 8The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago presents The Nutcracker at Auditorium Theatre 2017Victoria Jaiani and Amanda Assucena star in The Nutcracker, Joffrey Ballet 2017

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Category: 2017 Reviews, Auditorium Theatre, Dance, Holiday Show, Joffrey Ballet, Lauren Whalen

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