Why would Joffrey Ballet want to fix what isn’t broken? For kids of all ages, The Nutcracker inspires holiday magic and a love for ballet—and it’s undoubtedly the bread and butter of any professional ballet company. Still, a new version has been in the works with internationally renowned choreographer Christopher Wheeldon for almost 10 years. Chicago audiences are already familiar with the Tony Award-winning choreographer—his Swan Lake at Joffrey Ballet a couple of years ago was the most successful run the company has ever had. The spectacular new The Nutcracker, a love letter of sorts to Chicago, features a more realistic story by children’s author Brian Selznick and takes place during the World’s Columbian Exposition, or Chicago World Fair.
“Chicago doesn’t rest on its laurels. It’s a city always striving to be better, and I feel that is true for the Joffrey as well.” –Christopher Wheeldon
“The World’s Fair is a rich part of Chicago’s history and a point of change, and The Nutcracker is about transformation. At the heart of the story is a young girl who has little but makes much of her imagination,” Wheeldon explains. “Ours is also about family. But in the traditional story, it’s a rich, white, middle-class family in Germany, so we wanted to take it out of that setting to make it more relatable.” And while any audience today may appreciate the update, the production will always be a dedication to Chicago. When the show opens, one thing will become clear: Wheeldon has captured the magic, curiosity and possibility that the White City represented, and given it back to us in a way that is all our own. Dec. 10-30, tickets $35-$170, Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Parkway