Much like Clara (Marie in this production), in Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet, I think I have been fascinated with Nutcrackers since I first saw the ballet as a little girl.  Our own Joffrey Ballet, does a superb new interpretation choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon and running through December 30th at our exquisite Auditorium Theater, as seen above in my photograph of the curtain.


My first, and for many years, was the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo which I adored, that was followed by the New York City Ballet choreographed by the incredible George Balanchine at Lincoln Center which I saw in NYC in 1964 and to my mind the best until I saw the Joffrey’s production when they first came to Chicago….pure magic and performed at The Rosemont Theater.  An aside, when I was at Saks Fifth Avenue we did a series of what we called Platinum Events and our Platinum clients could choose from a menu of events (I’ll go into those in another post) one of these was the opening night of the Nutcracker with a catered dinner after the performance in the Theater’s Private Room.  I did red plaid taffeta cloths to the floor, of course, on the dinner tables and along with Gerald Arpino had at least one dancer from the performance, in their costumes, at each table.  The centerpieces were elegant stunning German Nutcrackers which we’re given to each guest as their gift after dinner. The event was very private with only fifteen couples, the Store Manager with their spouse and me.  A huge success.  I have been a huge fan of The Joffrey’s Nutcracker and I must admit I was skeptical of the new version…..silly me it is beyond brilliant….is Wheeldon the new Balanchine, I am beginning to think so.  I have to compliment the genius team of Ashley Wheater, Artistic Director and Greg Cameron, President and CEO for continuing to push our extraordinary company in new directions especially with the Classics (my favorites).  Up next the world premiere of Anna Karenina, February 13th through 24th, Mark your calendars now, I know I will! Better yet get your season tickets….what a perfect Holiday gift for everyone on your list and for yourself, I’d like to find that in the toe of my stocking!

Julian Crouch bringing his incredible Nutcracker to life. Photos by Cheryl Mann.

I  wrote the following on my Instagram account immediately after the performance last week and wanted to share that “review” with you.

“I am never at a lack for words but the Joffrey Ballet Chicago’s production of Christopher Wheeldon’s The Nutcracker has rendered me speechless….it is a flawless spectacle. The dancing, the use of modern technology in a traditional beloved ballet, the costumes and the sets…WOW. On this the 200th birthday of our State, it was a perfect celebration of our history to reimagine the setting and place it in Chicago at the spectacular World’s  Columbian Exhibition of 1893.”

Fabrice Calmels as  The Great Impresano of The Fair and ensemble, Cara Marie Gary as Marie, Fabrice, Cara and Yoshihisa Aria as Franz.

Miguel Angel Bianca and Alberto Velazquez E63BDAF5-1F64-4791-86BB-F59BCF1638D1


Dylan Gutierrez as The Rat Catcher.


Fernando Duarte as Mother Nutcracker


Fabrice Calmels and April Daly as The Great Impresario and The Queen of the Fair


The corps de ballet as snowflakes in the Second Act.



Finale…please notice the staging replicating the Auditorium interior pillars, beyond gorgeous. They also lit the ceiling for a bit of glamourous effect. The Louis Sullivan building was completed in 1889 and in addition to the theater the building housed a hotel…I’m sure guests to the World’s Fair stayed there.

The production will be at The Auditorium Theater through December 30th. Do go you will be transfixed, something we all need!!!!

Where can you find vintage collectible Nutcrackers, of course, i would suggest you check out the December Randolph Street Market on December 15 and 16. And if you more history about actual nutcrackers please go to the Randolph Street Market blog for my  November post on them (I do two posts monthly you might enjoy them give, the site a look!)

All the images were shared with me by The Joffrey Ballet and were taken by the talented  Cheryl Mann.

This is not a sponsored post.


  1. Kay Whitfield December 8, 2018 / 4:11 pm

    Ah, the Nutcracker! Your post brought me back! Really the images! I hadn’t thought about those characters for 40 years. Bout time I swing by the Joffrey one of fthese years!

    • nenasnotes December 8, 2018 / 4:32 pm

      You need to go this year, it is extraordinary and the use of modern technology to tell this classic is beyond brilliant. Do yourself a favor and GO!

  2. Elenor Hawley December 10, 2018 / 3:27 pm

    Thanks for sharing, what a beautiful production! Happy Holidays, Nena!

    • nenasnotes December 10, 2018 / 3:51 pm

      It is truly spectacular. I must admit I was doubtful that I would like a non traditional version….I was totally wrong…it is amazing. Happy Holidays to both of you….I look forward to seeing you in the New Year….

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