Playing at the Mariott Theatre in Lincolnshire, the Nutcraker is a check list of what family based theater is all about. Baby crying throughout the performance? Check. Does it offer a chance for the younger audience members to help the heroes out? A check for that one too, and, yes, I do believe in the spirit of Christmas. Most importantly, is this an experience that multiple family generations can enjoy? Judging from all the smiling grandparents, parents, and children (from new born to pre-teen) that one deserves a check as well.
This production, a shortened one hour musical that does not offer much ballet until the final few scenes, also has a lot of extras not typical of the sentimental holiday offering. For one thing, it features three musicians performing behind a screened balcony (there are some Broadway in Chicago productions that have less live music). The comedy also is a cut above the usual family fare as, amazingly, the play had not one fart joke. There was, however, a healthy dose of physical humor with the actors really playing well off one another. And with such beautiful costumes (colorful outfits I suspect have been used before) who cares about the hyper minimalistic set design.
Joining my daughter and I in reviewing this play were her two younger cousins. Every once in a while I stole a glance at Reagan (a wise three year old). She sat the entire performance holding her chin in her hands. With her eyes big and wide, she took in every detail with obvious amazement. Only when the actors took their curtain call did she move in order to burst into a thunderous applause. Looking around the theater I realized she was not the only one doing so.
Bottom Line: The Nutcracker, playing at the Mariott Theatre (10 Mariott Drive, Lincolnshire) is recommended for all families looking for a new holiday tradition. The musical is probably ideal for children age three through ten. Older children might, however, prefer the ballet over this musical version. To purchase tickets, click here. Performances are through December 28 with tickets priced at $15 (or at least $50 less than what you would pay for a similar performance downtown). For more information about theater in chicago go to theaterinchicago.
Photos Credit: Peter Coombs and the Marriott Theatre