Prior to American Buffalo at Steppenwolf, I caught a matinée of Emerald City’s praised production of A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas. (Talk about theatrical whiplash!) From what I could tell, the packed house of eager children loved this clever and silly retelling of the holiday classic The Nutcracker. They were completely into it.
Unfortunately, the performance I attended featured a woefully under-prepared understudy on for the lead, and he clumsily balanced a script while attempting to act, dance, sing and sword fight. This dragged things down a bit, but I don’t think the kids in the audience noticed or cared. They cheered and screamed and clapped, which is refreshing. These are tomorrow’s theatre audiences, after all. Get ’em while they’re young, I say!
The show is just over an hour long — perfect for shorter attention spans. The youthful, spirited cast features a wonderfully wicked performance from Shea Coffman as the Mouse King. It’s the type of villain you just love to hate.
Grab a kid and go. Along they way, they’ll learn a thing or two about consequences and making good choices — two running themes in this smart little show.
“A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas” plays through Jan. 2, 2010 at the Emerald City Theatre. Go here for more information.