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13 ‘Nutcrackers’ to get your holiday season cracking

Written by
Kris Vire

After nearly 30 years, the Joffrey Ballet has retired cofounder Robert Joffrey’s much-loved staging of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. In its place, a brand new version by Tony Award winner Christopher Wheeldon will debut next month. The Joffrey’s new edition might be the most anticipated Nutcracker of the holiday season, but it's only one among many variations on the E.T.A. Hoffmann story to be found around Chicago. Take your pick from this ’cracker pack. For a more varied list, check out our guide to Christmas plays and holiday theater in Chicago.

Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Wheeldon’s new staging is built for Chicago: It’s set in the city, against the backdrop of the 1893 World's Fair. Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E Congress Pkwy. $35–$170. Dec 10–30.

The House Theatre of Chicago’s The Nutcracker 
First seen in 2007, the House’s inventive nondancing take on the E.T.A. Hoffmann tale is updated this year with brand-new songs. Chopin Theatre, 1543 W Division St. $25–$45. Through Dec 30.

Marriott Theatre’s The Nutcracker
This musical staging, tailored for kids, uses pieces of Tchaikovsky’s score along with additional songs by the Marriott’s Marc Robin. 10 Marriott Dr, Lincolnshire, IL. $17.23. Through Dec 30.

Hyde Park School of Dance’s The Nutcracker
HPSD’s annual production puts more than 200 dancers onstage, and this year it interpolates a bit of hip-hop dance into its range of styles. Mandel Hall, University of Chicago, 1131 E 57th St. Dec 9–11. $22–$33, children 6 to 18 $10, under 6 free.

Ruth Page Civic Ballet’s The Nutcracker
The Ruth Page School of Dance presents its namesake's original staging of Tchaikovsky's beloved ballet. Northeastern Illinois University, Steinberg Fine Arts Center Recital Hall, 3701 W Bryn Mawr Ave. Dec 3, 4. $25, seniors and kids under 12 $20. 

The Nutcracker: Duke It Out!
Tchaikovsky meets Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s jazz interpretation in this concert rendition, featuring dancers from a number of local ensembles. Nichols Concert Hall, Music Institute of Chicago, 1490 Chicago Ave, Evanston, IL. Dec 10. $7.

Chicago Jazz Orchestra: Not So Silent Night
This holiday concert also centers on the Ellington/Strayhorn rendition, as transcribed by Chicago Jazz Orchestra artistic director and conductor Jeff Lindberg. Northwestern University, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Dr, Evanston, IL. Nov 29. $25, students $10.

Ballet Chicago’s The Nutcracker
Ballet Chicago’s young studio company performs the traditional piece on the Athenaeum Theatre’s beautiful main stage. Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N Southport Ave. Dec 10–18. $17–$34.

Chicago Festival Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Kenneth Von Heidecke’s Chicago Festival Ballet puts on one of the area’s most lavish productions of The Nutcracker. McAninch Arts Center at College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd, Glen Ellyn, IL. Dec 17, 18. $43, kids under 18 $32.

Ballet Légere’s The Nutcracker
Ballet Légere claims its production is the longest-running Nutcracker in the Chicago area, edging out the Joffrey’s at 32 years strong. Dominican University, Lund Auditorium, 7900 W Division St, River Forest, IL. Dec 10, 11. $25–$30.

Salt Creek Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Salt Creek Ballet’s production, which this year features guest soloists Gillian Murphy and Marcelo Gomes from the American Ballet Theatre, plays stints in western suburban Hinsdale and northern suburban Skokie. • Hinsdale Central Auditorium, 5500 S Grant St, Hinsdale, IL. Nov 26, 27. $15–$45. • North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie, IL. Dec 10, 11. $20–$48.

Dance-Along Nutcracker
Your tiny ballerinas can join in the fun at this free event with Ballet Chicago and the Lakeside Pride Symphonic Band. There’s an optional quickie dance lesson one hour before each participatory performance. Chicago Cultural Center, 79 E Washington St. Dec 4. Free.

The Buttcracker: A Nutcracker Burlesque
Leave the kiddos at home and enjoy the bite of this burlesque variety show inspired by the E.T.A. Hoffman tale, produced by Tom Boi Theatricals and the Cuckoo's Theater Project. Uptown Underground, 4707 N Broadway. Dec 2. $25–$30.

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