The Nutcracker | Chopin Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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Michael Brosilow

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 30 2017
Price: $30-$50
thehousetheatre.com
The House Theatre’s annual adaptation of the E.T.A. Hoffmann classic presents a “ballet-free” alternative to other Nutcrackers around town. With pointe shoes aside, it’s chock-full of drama and surprisingly dark, tracking Clara and her parents’ grieving process following the death of her brother Fritz, a soldier. Haley Seda shines as Clara, exploring and inhabiting a complicated range of emotions, from abject sadness to imaginative delight when her toys come to life to save Christmas. Under Chris Matthews’s direction, the lighthearted moments are equally compelling and heartwarming, including a Christmas cookie mess in the kitchen and the toys’ first experience of snow. And the fun isn’t just for the kids, with Uncle Drosselmeyer playing the pivotal role in ensuring Clara’s magical fantasy (or is it reality?) reaches its climactic moments with the evil Rat King. —Marissa Oberlander

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