Reviewing the Joffrey’s “Nutcracker” is a fool’s errand, of course, a little like reviewing a press conference by our estimable Mayor. Everyone knows what to expect already. This is a production designed to reward those expectations as grandly as possible. Gerald Arpino, following Robert Joffrey’s vision of Americana, stuffs the first act with more cleverly conceived peripheral moments than a Norman Rockwell canvas. The arrival of Drosselmeyer, grandly waving his mauve cape, signals the transition to the world of mouse kings, really big Christmas trees and sugarplum visions of multicultural shopping trips. Dallas Lundquist, alternating in the Drosselmeyer role with Brian McSween, is a suitably enigmatic presence. And as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Julianne Kepley is undoubtedly the envy of several hundred little girls. Her closing pas de deux with Michael Levine’s Nutcracker Prince ends the show triumphantly; the pair beautifully executes Joffrey’s athletic conception. Several moments stand out along the way, particularly the sinuous duet between Valerie Robin and Samuel Pergande as Coffee from Arabia. The kids, all the kids, take to the stage fearlessly. Besides filling coffers, “The Nutcracker” serves, one hopes, as a gateway into dance for its audience, and the Joffrey’s version is as good a gateway as one could hope for. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.