Where to Watch The Nutcracker in Boston
A handy cheat sheet to help you find the Drosselmeyer of your dreams.
This article has been updated to show event information for 2016.
Ah, The Nutcracker, that most hallowed of holiday stage traditions. Lucky for you, Boston boasts no fewer than five wildly different interpretations. But which to attend? For the brownstone set, Boston Ballet offers its venerable blowout, complete with toe shoes and a dancing bear. If you’re more intrigued by what’s underneath the tutus, then the burlesque-inspired Slutcracker promises to titillate. Still undecided? Ahead, our handy cheat sheet to help you find the Drosselmeyer of your dreams.
Blockbuster with a Makeover
The Boston Ballet offers the biggest, most elaborate show in town (and one of the largest productions of its kind in the world), featuring artistic director Mikko Nissinen’s own choreography and, as of last year, redesigned costumes and sets by Robert Perdziola. Performances draw on the talented students from the Boston Ballet School, who play everything from murderous mice to Clara, the lead.
$55+, November 25–12/31, Boston Opera House, 539 Washington St., Boston, bostonballet.org.
Think Globally, Dance Locally
Touting itself as a “United Nations of Nutcrackers,” the Urban Nutcracker showcases artists and dance traditions from around the world—think flamenco, swing, tap, hip-hop, and krump, along with ballet—all set to a score that mixes Tchaikovsky with Duke Ellington’s jazz version. But it’s also local-minded, with sets deeply rooted in this city: One scene takes place in the Public Garden, ducks and all.
$25+, December 16–31, Back Bay Events Center, 180 Berkeley St., Boston, urbannutcracker.com.
Designed for the Kids
The Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre maintains that The Nutcracker should be accessible to children, not dance critics. The company’s performance, now in its 26th season, strives to keep the plot flowing through both acts, and keep members of the audience with shorter attention spans riveted.
$20+, November 25-December 18, Cutler Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont St., Boston, December 9-18, Strand Theatre, 543 Columbia Road, Dorchester, ballettheatre.org.
Designed for the Adults
A burlesque set to Tchaikovsky, The Slutcracker is a ribald show that follows a grownup Clara whose Auntie Drosselmeyer gives her a very special “toy.” Everyone on this stage is vying for the limelight, and few can keep their clothes on for very long. “It’s pretty awesome when you dance to classical music and people cheer and scream for you,” says Vanessa White, the Babes in Boinkland troupe director.
$27, December 2-31, Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square, Somerville, theslutcracker.com.
12/2/2013, 11:10 a.m.: The model pictured at the top of this story was misidentified in the December 2013 print issue of Boston magazine. She is Li-Ann Lim, not Kristen Lung. We regret the error.