An independent show guide not a venue or show. All tickets 100% guaranteed, some are resale, prices may be above face value. We're an independent show guide not a venue or show. We sell primary, discount and resale tickets, all 100% guaranteed prices may be above face value. We are an independent show guide not a venue or show. We sell primary, discount and resale tickets, all 100% guaranteed and they may be priced above or below face value.

Joffrey Ballet - The Nutcracker Reviews

Holiday & Christmas ShowsBalletFamily ShowsDance & BalletLocal

Average customer review: 2.5 star rating (2.3 Stars)

Number of reviews: 54



5.0 star rating Ed Jeffries from Chicago, Illinois



5.0 star rating Marie from Chicago, Illinois


I thought it was amazing and such a welcome change.

5.0 star rating Johanna from Chicago, Illinois


Incredibly creative production. Absolutely loved it!

5.0 star rating Katherine Hussey from Denver, Colorado


Unlike the previous reviewers, we welcomed the Chicago-centered story, costumes and set. We were amused by the cowboy, and amazed at the quality of the dancing. We’ve seen other performances in earlier years of the standard interpretation and we’re glad for the variety. Recommend it for the dancing, music, superb acoustics in that venue, creativity. Don’t recommend it for someone looking for the traditional interpretation, however. Come prepared.

5.0 star rating from Chicago, Illinois


Negative reviews are most likely from close-minded theater goers who don’t appreciate the amazing creativity and inventiveness of this show. Spectacular music, talented dancers and impressive integration of light projections into the set made for a great watch. Truly special show!

5.0 star rating Kathryn MacMillan from Chicago, Illinois


My family and I loved the Chicago version from the perspective of a poor family. Incredibly cool show and as always so well, done. We’re going again next year and would love it if the show is the same!

5.0 star rating Piper from Chicago, Illinois


I was SO traumatized… with how good it was. Even though it was not “classic” or “traditional” was amazing. Keep an open mind, it is amazing. I love how these costumes are beautiful, and they fit so well with the time frame. The story is chicago centric at this theater, and works SO WELL. It is beautiful. It is traditional. There’s a giant christmas tree. It’s not ruining christmas. The dancers and orchestra was amazing. Overall, just read up on what kind of ballet it will be before you buy tickets.

5.0 star rating Tiffany Hanson from Chicago, Illinois


I absolutely loved the refresh and all the creativity that went into the new storyline! The characters and costumes were so fun and I loved the addition of humorous characters like the dancing nuts and Wild Bill, with his lasso and free-flying fringe. I felt the beauty of the production was kept in tact while adding the direct connection to Chicago in the storyline, making the show feel incredibly unique. I traveled 3 hours to attend this show and would happily come back next year to enjoy this Chicago-exclusive production.

5.0 star rating Carrie Hunt from Chicago, Illinois


I absolutely loved it; this was not what I was expecting. I remember seeing this ballet many years ago and was drawn back to give my daughter a holiday experience while home from college. I appreciated the adaptation blending the World Fair with the story line. I am a big fan of local history, combining this with the incredible dancing was amazing!

5.0 star rating Sheri from Morton Grove, Illinois


I am 75 years old and this is my very first experience of seeing the Nutcracker. It was magnificent in every way. The dancers blew me away with their talent, The sets and choreography was superb and seemed to take your to all the magical places we got to experience. I would recommend this production to young or old. I won't forget it!!!!

4.0 star rating from Chicago, Illinois


This year was quite different from past performances I've seen. I wasn't a huge fan as it didn't have as much of a Christmas theme. However, I LOVED the performance to Ravel's Bolero. That was my favorite part

3.0 star rating Krista from Chicago, Illinois


I have seen the Nutcracker several times. I have to admit I prefer the Traditional version. I wouldn’t recommend it how it is. I love ballet and I love the Nutcracker. I was not a fan of all the changes. I’ll be back when it goes back to the traditional. That was the response of the people around me also. The dancers themselves were amazing as always.

3.0 star rating Jenny from Chicago, Illinois


The Joffery's Original production was stunning and a joy to attend year after year. We even sat in the same seats each season, making it a cherished family tradition. The new production is interesting, and we liked the spin on it, but the premise is so far fetched, and the mysterious magical components are erased, making it a much more grown up tale that the children couldn't grasp like the fantasy of Clara and her sorcerer uncle, the transforming Nutcracker Prince and the dream world of Candyland. Overall, it was worth seeing once, but sadly, and almost brokenheartedly, this new Chicago-specific production has too many holes in the fantasy and we haven't been able to muster the excitement to attend it in subsequent years. We hope this one has a good run, but we can't wait to get back our beloved characters and scenes when Joffery finally reverts to the timeless classic version. Until then, we will spend our ticket money on other productions closer to the original, around Chicago.

3.0 star rating Gina from Chicago, Illinois


I didn’t realize they totally changed the story and with the change gone are the beautiful costumes and beloved dances. While there were a few glimmers of beauty overall it was disappointing- not the music or dancers ability but the beauty of the production. The whole first act is drab clothes and lots of gesticulating hard to follow and frankly a little dull. I live in the real world and came to see the Nutcracker for the beauty and fantasy that it is supposed to be.

2.0 star rating Julie N. from Chicago, Illinois


My father was visiting from out of town and loves the ballet, especially Swan Lake. I thought it would be special for us to see the Nutcracker also by Tchaikovsky. I never would have gone if I realized the artistic director changed the whole traditional story line. The only reason I gave it two stars and not one was that some of the dancing was beautiful. The costumes were down right horrible and gaudy. The new story was ridiculous and stretched in a poor attempt to go with the beautiful music. There was Buffalo Bill and his cancan dancers, an unknown character sitting on the top of a house and dancing walnuts among others? I spent $200 a ticket and wanted my money back after the first 15 minutes. Why change a classic? HORRIBLE.

2.0 star rating TK from Chicago, Illinois


We were looking forward to the Nutcracker as we have seen for many years. This new version is a joke! Think of it this way - if you were going to watch the "Wizard of OZ" but instead you got the "Wiz". It just is not the same - the dancers were awesome but the storyline created in Chicago was a bummer!

2.0 star rating Chen from Chicago, Illinois


Just watched this afternoon as the first performance of the season 2019. Not a traditional nutcracker. Too much drastic changes since 2016. Won’t see this production again. Googled and found a 2016 New York Time review on this production. 100% agree with the review. If you find reviews by Chicago local newspapers, such as tribune and sun time, you will be fooled by these local reviews, it apparently looks like too much nepotism in play.

2.0 star rating Drew from Grand Rapids, MI


In short, bad! Been going to this show for 10 years, but no more after the change. This isn’t about being averse to change either, as I was very much looking forward to new sets and costumes possibly...but instead someone got the genius idea to kill the entire Christmas theme essentially. The traditional story of family and Christmas and princesses and princes and fairy lands is replaced with single mother, dark drab costumes, industrial sets and alike. My guess is the new director is more a fan of modern wokeness than the traditional Christmas and family values this ballet used to exemplify. Given the size of Chicago, I’m sure my attendance and that of my families won’t be missed though.

2.0 star rating from Chicago, Illinois


ditto to what everyone else said. Was it fine stand alone, well done all around? Certainly. Is it nutcracker level, worth going back year after year? Absolutely not. It's a Chicago-centered novelty, not a beautiful christmas tradition. I did not come to see the Chicago skyline in Candyland. I hope they go back to the tried and true!

2.0 star rating Eddie from Chicago, Illinois


I came to see every year this Jofferrey ballet "the Nutcracker" this production may not good for the someone like traditional Nutcracker. I thought it is challenging to create new story. but this year, quality of Ballet was not good. especially Corp de ballet. only few principals are very good.

2.0 star rating Alex W. from Oak Park, Illinois


I don’t understand why the Joffrey Ballet is telling people that this is The Nutcracker. There isn’t even a sugar plum fairy. It’s just sad. We spent SO MUCH MONEY on this tickets expecting to see a Christmas tradition and were so disappointed. I am not adverse to change - if the Joffrey wanted to tell a different story, that’s amazing - just call it by another name. In the coming years, we will find another venue to see the Nutcracker.

2.0 star rating from Chicago, Illinois


The only reason I’ve given this performance 2 stars is because the orchestra was amazing! The dancers were also very good but not at the level I’ve seen in year’s past. This “reimagined” production was a totally different story. A sad story and one that should be told but not under the title of The Nutcracker. I have a difficult time understanding why you would change the story, the choreography, the costumes and the setting but not the name….?!! The dancing was not synchronized, the costumes were blah and my guests and I left wondering why we spent our time and a our money here. I would not recommend this to anyone.

2.0 star rating Tjk from Chicago, Illinois


Wanted to see the classic, beautiful nutcracker. Was extremely disappointed with this new interpretation.

2.0 star rating LR from Chicago, Illinois


I have loved our annual family tradition of attending the Joffery's variations on the more classic production of the Nutcracker, and tried to keep an open mind to the new interpretation. I hoped to experience something fresh and imaginative, but instead remain disappointed. The new production is well performed and the talent of the company and orchestra on full display. This version, though, deemphasizes the magic, wonder, and focus on Christmas, and has too many nonsensical plot lines / holes for my taste. Some of the choices (An accordion and fiddle? A cowboy twirling his lasso to the Danse Russe?) felt downright cringeworthy. The Nutcracker has always been a gateway to appreciation of ballet, but the children in our party were confused and bored. The joy, color, and fantasy are largely missing. I appreciated seeing it once, regret seeing it twice, and will sadly look elsewhere for our annual trip to the Nutcracker during the term of this production.

2.0 star rating Anna Kucharski from Chicago, Illinois


This is not the traditional nutcracker story. I would have loved a heads up that the story was changed. I think the title should have been The Nutcracker: Reimagined. I was completely blindsided because I was expecting the original. I miss the traditional story. I have it 2 stars because some of the dancers were very talented. I paid $120 dollars for tickets and would of loved to watch the traditional ballet. Will try and find the traditional performance next year with a different company. It was very disappointing to be let down.

2.0 star rating Nancy Dayton from Lake Zurich, IL


This new version is horrible. The story line doesn’t make sense and doesn’t flow with the traditional music. The era was f the setting and the music do not coincide. This is a horribly derived concept. I’ve seen the nutcracker every year for the last 35 years, it is my Christmas tradition and very dear to my heart. This was so disappointing.

2.0 star rating Cindy from Chicago, Illinois


I was so excited to be seeing The Joffrey Ballet's Nutcracker. I was left disoriented and disappointed. I picked up all of the new aspects of the story line except the mother creating a special statue for the fair. I have favorite dances/choreography that run through my head when I hear the beautiful music. I was really thrown off with the new characters, especially Wild Bill. I understand the importance of having him at the Chicago World's Fair, but to have him dancing to The Russian dance number was weird. The orchestra was great, the stage settings were done with amazing new technologies, but the different tiers of dancers was too evident. The absolute precision of the corp dancers was off, and a few of the world dancers were not up to par. The standouts were the Queen of the Fair, the dancers from Siam, Wild Bill, and the stunning duet with the Fair Queen and the Impresario. The overall feel was light, happy, and free of the constraints of the classical version. I thought the big, individual numbers coming back for applause after their numbers was tacky.

2.0 star rating Raif de Stafford from Chicago, Illinois


I spent a significant amount of money on four tickets to The Nutcracker with all expecting a holiday classic. What a disappointment to find out too late that the storyline had been changed to a pathetic and uninspired version of the classic. It was boring and had we known we would never have wasted our time on it. I expected better from the Joffrey. We'll find the real Nutcracker next time.

2.0 star rating from Chicago, Illinois


I’ve been seeing The Nutcracker (the traditional version) almost every year for the past 15 years and, unfortunately, this version didn’t meet the usual magic that comes with this show. With iconic characters like the sugar plum fairy, mother ginger, and russian dancers being watered down or changed altogether, it was hard to give the different take on the original story a chance. When a story’s setting, characters, and relationships are different than the original, how can it really be called by the same title? Seeing this version once was enough.

2.0 star rating LindaT from Evanston, il


I did not realize this was an updated version. Unfortunately, I thought it fell flat. Lots of running around with flapping arms and posing. The chorus not good, dancers out of step. Orchestra amazing as we're 2 main couples. Very disappointed. Worth $35, not $115

2.0 star rating Kate Lin from Chicago, Illinois


The dancing is excellent, but my kid kept asking me, "When is the pretty part, with the colors?" And that part never came. Everything, even the Land of Sweets, had greyed down colors. I left the production feeling so dragged down. I don't want social commentary with my nutcracker. I just want something happy and shiny. If you feel the same skip this.

2.0 star rating Anonymous from Chicago, Illinois


As others have mentioned, much was left to be desired after seeing this rendition of the Nutcracker. There were very odd changes that just felt out of place for a magical Christmas ballet. There was no waltzflower (instead some sort of polka), no Russian dancers (replaced by Buffalo Bill and his can can dancers), and no sugar plum fairy (now the golden statue). The saving grace of this performance was the Arabian pas de deux. It was the one performance that truly left me in awe. Several numbers were underwhelming, not sure if it was the choreography or because some of the corps dancers timing was way off, but I will be seeing a different company next year.

2.0 star rating Anna from Chicago, Illinois


I didn’t mind the story change, and thought stage effects and the orchestra were great, but the dancing was a complete disappointment. It seemed that the performance was not rehearsed well. A lot of running around the stage, poor choreography, uncoordinated corps de ballet seemed amateur and ruined the magic for me.

1.0 star rating David from Chicago, Illinois


We have attended a number of years with daughters and grand daughters as a family tradition but never again.... it was awful. Customers were gaudy. Don’t waste your time and money. Box seat chairs were threadbare and hard. I do not recommend it to anyone.

1.0 star rating from Chicago, Illinois


Disliked this version of The Nutcracker! So hard to uunderstand and follow along....iin fact, it was quite boring! I don’t believe this to be for children at all! The only thing that seemed to keep me awake were the people behind us crunching on food the whole way through!!!

1.0 star rating Britanny from Chicago, Illinois


This new "Nutcracker" gets rid of all the beauty and the ornate scenes from the original Nutcracker. It opens in a dark and sad scene with rats running around (not the mouse king's mice). Got rid of the Sugar Plum Fairy and replaced her with the "Golden lady"... or something like that. The elegance, beauty, and tradition of the Nutcracker completely disappeared. There are no beautiful fairy dances. At one point, the ballet literally mocks and tries to be funny in a clown scene. For the price, don't waste your time in getting disappointed. This wonderful older woman who I sat next to was basically in tears because she had been coming to the ballet to watch the Nutcracker for years, and when she saw this she was devastated. It truly is so disappointing.

1.0 star rating Ethel Brown from Chicago, Illinois


It was very sad to see the Nutcracker Ballet that has been a tradition in my family for years lose its warmth, it’s joyful anticipation for Christmas seen through the eyes and imagination of children. The Christmas theme was downplayed. I was heart broken and I don’t know if I will ever return. The caliber of dancing was not as good either, very slow and even off at times. Absence of good male dancers. Costumes were not great either. All around disappointment. The Salt Creek Theater delivers a better show.

1.0 star rating Karen from Quad cities iowa


I have seen the nutcracker all over the country. Had I known what I was going to see I would never have come or encouraged my family members to do so. No one understood the story line and the costumes had no magic. What a mess

1.0 star rating Allison from Chicago, Illinois


Going to see the Nutcracker Ballet is a Christmas tradition. The 2021 interpretation the Joffrey ballet put out was by far the worst version I have ever seen. I would have walked out mid-way through the first act if it wasn't for the rest of my party. There was absolutely no connection between the original story and the show I saw. The entire show was disappointing, but the Russian dance / cowboy dance took the cake! I sat through the entire show steaming, I would like my money back, it was that bad! The Joffrey ballet has soured me and I will never return for another show. The only dance worth noting was the Arabian dance, they were something! The rest was a complete joke. Save your money and pull it up on Netflix.

1.0 star rating from Chicago, Illinois


Not a fan of this new version. Based on attendance seems more people feel the same. Give us back the original story!

1.0 star rating Autumn Stiles from Chicago, Illinois


I’ve requested my money back. This was not the Nutcracker. The Joffrey Ballet should change the name and call this something else. I thought I was going to see an incredible version of the traditional performance I’ve seen over ten times. It’s deceiving to call this The dancing - it’s not. The orchestra and the dancers were delightful but the “reimagined” version of this is depressing. Do not waste your money. I’ll never go again.

1.0 star rating Britanny from Chicago, Illinois


The glitz and glam is gone, the choreography is sexist and vulgar. It takes place in a rat-infested cabin/alley of Chicago during the world fair. Don't let their marketing fool you. Every year they post a photo of the snow fairies for their promo (this is because it is the only beautiful part of the entire show). Avoid at all costs. Start supporting the other Nutcrackers in the area. Truly disappointing and not at all worth the money.

1.0 star rating Tom from Chicago, Illinois


I was interested in the Chicago Worlds Fair idea, but this choreography (and some performance) was so bad, it borders on amateur. My best one liner is "Ice follies in shoes". I laughed out loud at some points, and not in a good way. I definitely feel ripped off and dissappointed and a bit sad that anyone offers this (sorry) crap

1.0 star rating Anna from Chicago, Illinois


Live orchestra and talent of the dancers is great. Story IS NOT Nutcracker. It's a love story about the World's Fair. Buffalo Bill's can can girls and lasso is the most offensive to us native Slavics. The costumes look like rags. Will never go back until it reverts to the magic of Christmas.

1.0 star rating Joe from St. Louis, MO


I have been going to the nutcracker since I was a child and was expecting another great performance but was shocked by this new “woke” interpretation of the Nutcracker. Not only was this new story terrible, contrived, and hard to follow but the dancing was off too. The ballerinas in several scenes were completely unsynchronized, which I would imagine is due to lack of rehearsing. If you’re looking for a performance of the Nutcracker, this isn’t it.

1.0 star rating Susan from Chicago, Illinois


I guess the blame lies at my feet for not being "in the know" that this was not the traditional Nutcracker. If it were just for adults, fine. But we brought a 6 and 7 year old who knew the story from books, but couldn't come close to following this "version" of the Nutcracker. To make it worse, we had 8 tickets. The setting and costumes were depressing. Very drab. The story for the kids was unrecognizable. So they were confused and bored. To top it off, the male dancers were just not great, and the real show stopper was instead of the Russian dancers, they had three raggedy, cheap looking saloon girls and a guy in chaps with a lariat. Yes, I understand that was supposed to tie in with Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, but do you honestly think a 6 or 7 year old could do that? This was a disaster, and frankly, embarrassing for the Joffrey. We'll drive out to the suburbs next year for the old version.

1.0 star rating Ashley from Chicago, Illinois


Beyond disappointed. You are deceiving the audience! If you want to stay away from everything Russian come up with something else but don’t ruin classic masterpiece.

1.0 star rating Cathy from Chicago, Illinois


The idea to set the story in Chicago during the 1893 Columbian Exposition seemed interesting but the sets in the first act are dark and the costumes dreary. Life-like rats are too realistic for children. Second act is better lit, but choreography is awkward, dancers out of sync, dancing walnuts and other characters odd. Costumes hide the dancers movements, especially the Indian princess, Queen of the Fair and sugar plum fairies.

1.0 star rating Morgan from Chicago, Illinois


If you’re looking for the bright colorful costumes, DON’T look here! The show is set in the depression, and that’s how you’ll be if you take your kids to see this! You know the Russian dancers? They’ve been replaced with two saloon girls and a cowboy flailing a lariat dressed in chaps! This show needs to come with a warning! Awful!!

1.0 star rating Margaret Reifsteck from Lena, Illinois


The 2023 production is a FARCE. I was so disappointed with the story line, poor set design, costumes, and ridiculous choreography....Cowboys lassoing, country dancers in cowboy boots???? I felt like crying. I definitely was left with a bad taste in my mouth. Shame. Shame. Shame

1.0 star rating Brandon D from Indianapolis, IN


This adaptation was unnecessarily complicated. I was excited about the concept of The Nutcracker centering around the World’s Fair, but even reading the changes beforehand, it was too much work to follow. It was drab and sad and not worth the time and money spent to attend. I can’t recommend attending.

1.0 star rating Alexis from Chicago, Illinois


they completely changed the traditional nutcracker story line to be about a poor family who lives in a shack with a Charlie Brown type Christmas tree. There wasn’t even a sugar plum fairy and was replaced by a lady in a gold dress. The sugar plum is an essential and iconic character!! This is not children friendly because a child who has never seen the nutcracker would not be able to follow along the story. Why are there cowboys?

1.0 star rating Previous Resident of Chicago from Chicago, Illinois


The “Chicago” Nutcracker remake is a woke disaster. The lame choreography lacks the previous magical power of Ruth Page’s creativity. Substituting a cowboy for the Russian dancers says it all. The previous colorful, Christmas, winter wonderland scenes are replaced with drab scenes of 1800’s brown Chicago skylines. I feel sorry for the performers who had to perform this farce. Fire the idiots behind this abomination and restore the tradition. Do not waste your time and money.

1.0 star rating Marsha from Chicago, Illinois


What did I just spend all that money to see? It wasn’t The Nutcracker. This was supposed to be my Christmas show this year and I am left not feeling jolly but angry. I am an artist. I understand wanting to do something new and different but Christmas is not the time to mess with a child’s favorite. I saw two different families carrying out crying children who were scared. I wanted to cry too. Perhaps the dancers hated it as well because they were unsynchronized and lacking energy for much of it. Pastel and/or boring costumes hid what good dancing there was. Many were leaving before the curtain call and the complaints I heard waiting for the elevator were too numerous to count. Shame on those who thought this was a good idea. It was not. And I will think long and hard before attending another Joffrey performance.

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