clara shrunkLet me get straight to the pointe— I’m nuts about the Nutcracker.  Luckily, my hometown  ballet company puts on one of the very best productions in the United States. The Nutcracker at the Chicago Joffrey Ballet is a great way to introduce children to ballet.

The Joffrey Ballet’s Nutcracker is an over-the-top extravaganza featuring 118 young dancers, as well as the Joffrey’s professional dancers. This   production is set in an American home on Christmas Eve in the 1800’s. It’s the original toy story, featuring a varied assortment of dolls, toy soldiers and fairies who magically come to life. Sensational scenery, costumes, and props make this production a visual spectacle. At one point, a giant doll puppet moves about the stage, while rambunctious children emerge from her hooped skirt.

Dazzling shrunken puppetDesign and Architecture
That’s not the only prop that you and your children will find enchanting.  A balloon at the end of the performance lifts Clara and Dr. Drosselmeyer off the stage of the Auditorium Theatre. This venue is a work of art itself.  The masterpiece of the famed architectural team of Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, its ornate gilded interior and murals are a sight to behold. You’ll likely find your senses overwhelmed by the beauty of this Chicago landmark, considered by many to be one of the country’s most beautiful theatres. Sit back and enjoy the view as you wait for the curtain to rise.  

Live Orchestra
Accompanying this delightful ballet is the beloved score by Tchaikovsky, played by the Chicago Sinfonietta. Hearing this ballet with a live world-class orchestra makes the experience even more spectacular.  If the dancing weren’t so dazzling, just the music would be a treat.

The entire performance is a festive feast for the eyes and ears that will surely be a highlight of any holiday visit to Chicago.

For tickets go to


Andrea Guthmann is a freelance journalist. She spent many years as a writer and producer for WTTW-TV, the PBS station in Chicago. Her travel stories have been published in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Parent, Make It Better and on-line travel sites. 

A native Floridian, Andrea’s now a big (windy) city mom of 3, who range in age from tot to teen. After giving birth to 2 beautiful children she’s had the joy of becoming a mom again through adoption. She loves sailing Lake Michigan and visiting the world class museums and restaurants in her sweet home Chicago. Being a scenery starved city girl, she loves escaping to the outdoors during vacations and is working hard to raise 3 happy campers! You can follow her on Twitter at @AndreaGuthmann.

disclosure:  Our tickets were provided to us by the Joffrey Ballet, but the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.