If you’re looking for a new twist on a familiar classic that your kids will enjoy as much as you do, consider The Nutcracker from the House Theater.
This play features Clara, the Rat King and, of course, the Nutcracker himself. The biggest change is the Nutcracker’s identity. The Nutcracker is painted to look like Clara’s older brother Fritz who went away to war and never came home.
As Clara’s family struggles to embrace the Christmas spirit without their son, Clara imagines a rich world of imagination. At night, Fritz as the Nutcracker and other toys come to life to help restore the Christmas spirit to the house.
This play is perfect for families with young children. Songs like “Let’s Make Cookies” may not have the most original lyrics, but they captivate small children and make them bounce on the edge of their seats in excitement.
That is not to say that the plot is simplistic. The script delicately layers the grief of Clara and her parents while maintaining a constant thread of Christmas cheer.
At its core, this play deals with grief. Clara’s parents struggle to relate to each other and the holiday in the wake of their son’s death. Clara herself use’s the nutcracker of her brother to process her feelings of pain and loss.
In one of the play’s most touching moments, Clara asks Fritz how they’re supposed to celebrate his favorite holiday without him. He admits it won’t be easy, but reminds her that she can still make Christmas special in his memory.
The Nutcracker runs through Dec. 31 at the Chopin Theater, 1543 W. Division St. Tickets: $25-$45. (Photo: Michael Brosilow/Courtesy)