Hip Hop Nutcracker at Playhouse Square Puts a New Spin on an Old Holiday Favorite

Photo by Tim Morris

Fri 12/13 @ 8PM

It’s as predictable as clockwork: each Christmas season will offer multiple opportunities to see the ballet The Nutcracker. And if the late 19th century Russian version and its variations have grown stale for you (but never for little girls decked out in velvet party dresses and shiny patent leather shoes!), there are always versions set in other times and places. For instance, the Joffrey Ballet re-set it in Chicago on the eve of the Columbian Exposition World’s Fair at exactly the same time period (December 1892) when the Russian version made its debut.

Updating the Tchaikovsky-scored work is another popular ploy, and that’s the direction taken by The Hip Hop Nutcracker, directed and choreographed by Jennifer Weber. The original Tchaikovsky music, which any ballet student knows by heart, still drives the dancing, which is thoroughly contemporary as is the setting: modern-day New York City. The story’s the same though, as the Nutcracker Prince leads young Maria/Clara to the Land of Sweets after dispatching an army (gang!) of mice.

This production, which will be at Playhouse Square’s State Theatre for one night only, is augmented by digital visuals, break dancing, a DJ, a violinist and, as MC, legendary rapper Kurtis Blow, the first rapper to sign with a major label in 1979 and the first to earn a gold record for a hip-hop tune, back in 1980.

Tickets are $25-$65.


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