The Nutcracker | Chopin Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

The Nutcracker Closing (Theater and Galleries) Recommended The Short List (Theater)

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 30 2011

The House Theatre of Chicago's interpretation of the E.T.A. Hoffmann classic is energetic, funny, and—considering that it's aimed at kids—dark. Things start off in high spirits with Clara and her family decorating for Christmas, welcoming friends to their party, and anticipating the homecoming of brother Fritz, who's been away at war. In the first of several sudden shifts that run throughout the play, the mood goes from almost manically celebratory to heartbreakingly sad when it's reported that Fritz has been killed. The next year Uncle Drosselmeyer shows up bearing a nutcracker that looks exactly like Fritz. It comes to life, not only helping Clara save Christmas from the Rat King but also reuniting her with her dead brother. The logic behind some parts of the plot is fuzzy—Fritz, for instance, explains his reincarnation by pointing out that there are lots of strange things in the world, like shrimp-flavored chips—but overall this is a smart, exuberant show. —Julia Thiel

Price: $10-$25

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