The Nutcracker dazzles children’s eyes, but it also confirms their deep suspicion that toys come to life, even when no one is looking or poking them repeatedly with cattle prods. Feel the season’s electricity with this GrouponLive deal to see The Nutcracker, presented by the Illinois Youth Dance Theatre at Lake Zurich Performing Arts Center with Joffrey Ballet’s Ricardo Santos and Trinity Irish Dancers. Choose between the following seating options:
- For $11, you get one gold-level ticket for balcony seating in rows G–W (up to a $22 value, including all fees).
- For $13, you get one blue-level ticket for orchestra seating in rows A–F (up to a $27 value, including all fees).
For each seating option, choose from the following showtimes:
- Friday, December 21, at 7 p.m.
- Saturday, December 22, at 1 p.m.
- Saturday, December 22, at 5 p.m.
- Sunday, December 23, at 3 p.m.
Doors open one hour before showtime.
Based on a story by the 19th-century romantic fabulist E.T.A. Hoffman, The Nutcracker weaves a magical tale of holiday adventure during Tchaikovsky's adaption as a two-act ballet. Marie, the story's heroine, receiving a nutcracker from her godfather, a wizardly toymaker named Drosselmeyer. Sneaking downstairs to see the toy after everyone else has gone to bed, Marie suddenly finds herself caught in the middle of a pitched battle between the toys and an army of mice. After saving the nutcracker with a well-thrown shoe to the Mouse King's head, Marie and her now-living prince venture into the Land of Snow and the Land of Sweets to celebrate amid the dances of nimble snowflakes and the regal Sugar Plum Fairy.
Tchaikovsky’s score features some of the most recognizable tunes in the repertoire, repurposed beyond the ballet world in works including Disney's Fantasia, which naturally chose to illustrate the music’s delicate beauty with dancing mushrooms and leaping radishes. Notable sections include the “Waltz of the Snowflakes,” which floats weightlessly above the angelic voices of a youth choir, and the second act's medley of exotic national dances, including a Russian Trepak. The music-box-like theme of the “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy” springs from a celesta, a new instrument Tchaikovsky came across in Paris and hurriedly inserted into the score before his musical rivals could make use of its haunting, bell-like sound.
Initially unpopular when it premiered in Russia, The Nutcracker languished for decades with a reputation as one of Tchaikovsky's lesser works. Then, in the 1950s, the ballet’s status as a fixture of the holiday season began to grow as suddenly as Marie's magic Christmas tree when renowned American choreographer George Balanchine staged it for the New York Ballet. Balanchine's elegant staging remains the most popular, alternating between breathtaking displays of balletic mastery by soloists and duos, and large-scale set pieces that fill the stage with luminous costumes.
Though this merchant sometimes offers a discounted price online, this Groupon is still the best deal available.