The House Theatre creates a joyful ballet-free Nutcracker

| November 30, 2017 | Comments (0)

IMG_8370An outing to the Nutcracker is a holiday tradition for many families. This holiday season, families can find a delightful, ballet-free version of the Nutcracker at Chicago’s House Theatre that incorporated the story you know with a whimsical set and quirky characters.

This enchanting Wicker Park theater was filled with terrific actors whose credits would shine on any stage. You could see how much fun they were having on the small stage as they danced, cried, laughed and fought. The energetic actors captivated the audience from start to finish in a tightly choreographed production that used every inch of the theater.

The Nutcracker performers brought each character to life with charm as they told the story of a family ready for their annual Christmas party. When the knock at the door brings sad news, the entire holiday party tradition ended with a dark shadow that seemed to be permanent.

It took Uncle Drosselmeyer’s magic to bring Christmas back to Clara and her family. Along the way the Rat King battled the Nutcracker in a fun battle that plays out on stage, in the aisles and with the audience. At one point, the rats took a slightly scary turn which only lasted a few minutes. The youngest children might have been frightened by the oversized rats, although the children sitting in the front row during our performance screamed for a moment before laughing.

The House Theatre has open seating for the Nutcracker. When we attended, the front row was filled with children. There was a group of nine or ten young boys sitting near us. Throughout the show, the actors used the front row as part of the set. The boys couldn’t stop laughing as different characters made the audience part of the scene.

One thing we noticed was how the actors interacted with the audience before and after the show. As the audience found their seats the actors wandered the theater chatting and taking photos. The last scene before the intermission involved “snow” that filled the stage. When the actors left the stage, the children ran into the snow. The actors played with the children before cleaning the snow to start the second act. The actors came out after the final curtain dropped to talk to the audience and take more photos. It made an intimate performance even more wonderful to see how the actors enjoyed meeting the audience. The young boys who attended really had fun with the actors.

The House Theatre‘s ballet-free Nutcracker is on stage at through December 30 in the Chopin Theatre building at 1543 W. Division, Chicago.  The show runs for two hours with one 15 minute intermission. There is plenty of street parking close to the Chopin Theatre, just remember to pay for parking at the nearest parking box. For more information or to purchase tickets,  call 773.769.3832 or visit


Shari writes about life with twins at Two Times The Fun. Image courtesy of the House Theatre.



Disclaimer:  I did receive media passes to review the show. My words and opinions are my own.




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Category: Shari's Corner

About Shari: Shari is a mom, wife, marketing communications professional, gardener, Chicago Blackhawks fan, college sports fan, traveler, quilter, community volunteer, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, Siberian Husky owner, Girl Scout troop leader and book lover. You can find Shari blogging about life with twins at Two Times the Fun and tweeting @slcs48n1. View author profile.

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