CHICAGO — The Joffrey Ballet, led by Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Executive Director Greg Cameron, proudly presents the highly anticipated world premiere production of The Nutcracker by Christopher Wheeldon, winner of the 2015 Tony Award® for Best Choreography for An American in Paris. The Nutcracker will be presented at the Joffrey's home venue, the historic Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, in downtown Chicago at 50 East Congress Parkway, in 27 performances, December 10-30, 2016.
"The World's Columbian Exposition changed Chicago history, heralding its stature as a great American city." said Artistic Director, Ashley Wheater, "This was a time of optimism and dynamic growth. Having settled the frontier, America embraced its place in the world. Imagine visiting the Fair, with its massive scale, gleaming architecture, exotic foreign pavilions and raucous midway. For a visitor, young or old, the experience must have been wonderful. Christopher Wheeldon and his creative team have captured this spirit in our new Nutcracker. Perhaps more importantly, they have found fresh meaning at the heart of the Nutcracker story. Rather than arriving at the 'land of sweets', Marie's fantastic journey brings her to a loving home in a new land."
"We are thrilled to present this stunning new production that pays homage to the City that is an indispensable partner to the Joffrey," added Executive Director Greg Cameron. "The Nutcracker has touched countless hearts over the years. For some, a beloved family tradition and for others their very first ballet experience. We're honored to continue this tradition with a new Nutcracker that is uniquely Chicago and look forward to sharing the magic of dance with children of all ages and their families this holiday season."
"It was always my wish to create a Nutcracker that belongs specifically to The Joffrey Ballet - a version that accurately represents its dedication to unique repertoire and innovative works," said Christopher Wheeldon. "With the support of today's best creative minds, we have created a work that will transport audiences to a magical moment in the city's history. I'm honored to bring this vision to life for the Joffrey and look forward to many more partnerships with the company in years to come."
A ballet in two acts, The Nutcracker opens on Christmas Eve, 1892, as workers from around the world construct the Chicago Columbian World's Exposition, set to open five months later. Marie and her younger brother Franz arrive at home, a little shack where their mother, a sculptress, is creating a masterpiece that will preside over the fair. Workers from the fair soon arrive at the shack as a festive Christmas party begins. The creator of the World's Fair, the mysterious Impresario and his apprentice Peter, arrive to entertain the workers with an enchanting vision of his fair while distributing gifts, including a nutcracker for Marie. That evening, Marie awakes to an epic battle between toy soldiers and mice led by The Mouse King and the now life-size Nutcracker, where she unexpectedly saves the day. Following their victory, Marie, the Impresario and the Nutcracker, now transformed into a Prince, set sail into the night.
ACT II begins as they arrive on shore, greeted by the Queen of the Fair who grants them a visit to a dream like World's Fair. They move from pavilion to pavilion, where countries from around the world are represented. As the dream comes to a close, the Fair explodes with light and Marie suddenly awakes to find it is Christmas Day.
The Chicago Philharmonic, led by Joffrey Music Director Scott Speck, provides live accompaniment of the classic Tchaikovsky score for every performance. The full Joffrey company is also joined onstage by over 90 young dancers from the Chicagoland area and young vocalists from four different local children's choirs.
This $4 million production also comes to life through an award-winning team comprised of creatives in the tops of their fields including: Tony Award®-nominated set and costume designer Julian Crouch ( Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Shockheaded Peter ), author and illustrator Brian Selznick ( Caldecott Medal Award-winning author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, adapted into the Academy Award-winning film Hugo, directed by Martin Scorsese ), Obie and Drama Desk award-winning puppeteer and MacArthur Fellowship recipient Basil Twist ( The Addams Family ), six-time Tony Award®-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz ( An American in Paris, Frozen ), and Tony Award®-winning projection designer Ben Pearcy ( An American in Paris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch ).
Preview performances of Wheeldon's The Nutcracker will take place at The University of Iowa's new Hancher Auditorium, December 1—4, 2016. A longstanding artistic and creative partner to the Joffrey, Hancher Auditorium originally commissioned Robert Joffrey's The Nutcracker in 1987 as well as the critically acclaimed Billboards — America's first full-length rock ballet in 1993. Hancher's steadfast and ongoing support helped The Joffrey Ballet gain major national attention and ensured Robert Joffrey's dream of creating a distinctly American Nutcracker was realized before his death in 1988. Since the Joffrey's first tour in 1974, the Company has performed more than 100 performances at Hancher Auditorium, which remains a strong partner in Joffrey's commitment to creating groundbreaking new work.
The Joffrey Ballet performs The Nutcracker at Chicago's Auditorium Theatre Saturday, December 10 through Friday, December 30. The full schedule is as follows: Saturday, Dec. 10, 7 pm; Sunday, Dec. 11, 2 pm and 7 pm; Tuesday, Dec. 13, 7 pm; Wednesday, Dec. 14, 7 pm; Thursday, Dec. 15, 7 pm; Friday, Dec. 16, 7 pm; Saturday, Dec. 17, 2 pm and 7 pm; Sunday, Dec. 18, 2 pm and 7 pm; Tuesday, Dec. 20, 7 pm; Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2 pm and 7 pm; Thursday, Dec. 22, 2 pm and 7 pm; Friday, Dec. 23, 2 pm and 7 pm; Saturday, Dec. 24, 2 pm.; Monday, Dec. 26, 2 pm and 7 pm; Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2pm and 7 pm; Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2 pm and 7 pm; Thursday, Dec. 29, 7 pm; and Friday, Dec. 30, 7 pm.
Single tickets range from $35-$170 and are available for purchase at The Joffrey Ballet's official Box Office located in the lobby of Joffrey Tower, 10 E. Randolph Street, as well as the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University Box Office, by telephone 312.386.8905, or online at Joffrey.org .
About The Joffrey Ballet
Classically trained to the highest standards, The Joffrey Ballet expresses a unique, inclusive perspective on dance, proudly reflecting the diversity of America with its company, audiences, and repertoire which includes major story ballets, reconstructions of masterpieces and contemporary works.
The company's commitment to accessibility is met through an extensive touring schedule, an innovative and highly effective education program including the much lauded Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, Community Engagement programs and collaborations with myriad other visual and performing arts organizations.
Founded by visionary teacher Robert Joffrey in 1956, guided by celebrated choreographer Gerald Arpino from 1988 until 2007, The Joffrey Ballet continues to thrive under internationally renowned Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Executive Director Greg Cameron.
The Joffrey Ballet is grateful to Nutcracker Producing Sponsors Margot and Josef Lakonishok and Hancher Auditorium at the University of Iowa, as well as Nutcracker Corporate Sponsors BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois, Conagra Brands, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. and BrickStreet Insurance, Guarantee Trust Life Insurance Company; Nutcracker Sponsors Mary Jo and Doug Basler, Rosemarie and Dean Buntrock, Sandy and Roger Deromedi, Pamella Roland DeVos and Daniel DeVos, Sonia Florian, The Walter E. Heller Foundation, the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, Bruce Sagan and Bette Cerf Hill, Bill and Orli Staley Foundation, and the Women's Board of The Joffrey Ballet.
This project is partially supported by IncentOvate grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.
To learn more about choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, visit here, and for more information on The Joffrey Ballet and its programs, please visit joffrey.org .