This post originally appeared at ChooseChicago.com, where I am a contributor.
Since its 1892 adapted premiere in St. Petersburg, Russia - choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - E.T.A. Hoffman's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" has been enchanting audiences worldwide. With new versions of the classic appearing every year, here are four different Nutcrackers on stage this holiday season, each bringing to life the magic of Christmas through the story of Clara and her nutcracker that springs to life on Christmas Eve.
The House Theatre's fresh and moving version of The Nutcracker (pictured above) brings audience members smack dab into Clara's family drawing room, as everyone gathers to celebrate Christmas Eve. Though it centers on young Clara's journey to rescue Christmas after the heartbreaking death of her older brother, this magical take focuses on bravery and unity in the face of fear, and features amazing puppetry, original song, and many laugh-out-loud moments. Now onstage at the Chopin Theater, this performance engages kids of all ages, and is one of our family's favorite holiday shows.
At the Dance Along Nutcracker, guests are invited to don their ballet shoes and hit the stage alongside professional members of Ballet Chicago. You'll never see so many aspiring ballerinas in one room in your lifetime. The story is interactive and audience participation is a must, so wear your prettiest, flounciest tutu. An hour before each performance, members of Ballet Chicago will teach basic ballet positions and movements. Music for the Dance-Along Nutcracker is provided by the Lakeside Pride Symphonic Band.
The Noble Horse Theatre is the only theater in North America to present the historicNutcracker...on horseback! Clara, The Mouse King, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and the noble horses bring Tchaikovsky's unforgettable music to life. You'll see beautiful fairies on horseback, toy soldiers battling the mouse army, and amazing white stallions. Matinees last approximately one hour; evening shows are 90 minutes, dinner optional, and are B.Y.O.B.
And finally, the Joffrey Ballet's classic adaptation of The Nutcracker, which will sweep you into a winter wonderland complete with spectacular scenery, elegant costumes and exquisite dancing. This is perhaps the grandest Nutcracker in the city, and a beloved holiday tradition for many families. Tchaikovsky's glorious score is played live by a full orchestra in the beautiful Auditorium Theatre, adding to the splendor of a holiday evening at the ballet.