Holidays in Chicago are synonymous with the Joffrey Ballet's lavish production of "The Nutcracker," the classic ballet adapted in 1987 by Robert Joffrey from E.T.A. Hoffmann's "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" and set to the traditional Tchaikovsky score with live musical accompaniment from the Chicago Philharmonic. The extravagant production also features sparkling costumes, lush sets, a giant Mother Ginger puppet by the late "Sesame Street" designer Kermit Love, the full Joffrey company of dancers, an additional 118 youth dancers and vocalists from five local children's choirs.
The story follows a girl named Clara's magical journey from an extravagant Christmas Eve party through a battle between toy soldiers and an army of mice into an enchanted forest with the King and Queen of Snow where the Sugar Plum Fairy awaits to congratulate Clara on her battle victory. "The Nutcracker" has become such a popular Chicago tradition that 23 performances are scheduled this season.
We checked in with three dancers from the 26th annual production to see how the ballet's elements play out in their offstage lives—and how they plan to celebrate the holidays once their schedules permit.
---Go: 7 p.m. Friday through Dec. 28 at The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress ParkwayTickets: $31-$132. 800-982-2787; ticketmaster.com---
MEET THE DANCERS
Amber Neumann, 22Hometown: Niles, Mich.Current 'hood: Old Irving ParkRoles: Sugar Plum Fairy, Chocolate from Spain*, Flower, Snowflake, Tea from China*, Party Parent, Doll and Maid
Erica Lynette Edwards, 33Hometown: Downers Grove, Ill.Current 'hood: Lincoln ParkRoles: Party Parent, Governess, Grandmother, Vivandiere Doll, Snowflake, Chocolate from Spain*, Nougat from Russia* and Flower
Shane T. Urton, 23Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.Current 'hood: EdgewaterRoles: Butler and Party Parent, Soldier, Snow Wind, Flower Cavalier and Russian soloist.
*Chocolate from Spain, Tea from China and Nougat from Russia are three of five treats-themed divertissement scenes in which the Sugar Plum Fairy presents gifts and thanks to Clara for her courage during the battle.
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