Getting Nutty With the Nutcracker

Ever since I was a wee girl in Denver, my grandmother always took me to see some version of the Nutcracker, whether it was a classic ballet or a modern take done in black and white. Either way, I loved it, and even as a full-fledged adult I seek out productions. This year, I found three adaptations of George Balanchine’s ballet that give it a fun twist.

Created by Liz Muller and Collin Simon, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King highlights the adventures of little Clara and her wooden nutcracker, which is based on the original 1816 story by E. T. A. Hoffmann. The only thing you will recognize is the premise and the star characters. Otherwise, it’s steampunk musical and dark comedy involving singing mice, broken dolls, and some spunky minions that leap, jest, and run all over the stage. Playing at The Beckett Theater on December 11 through the 15. Buy tickets here.

You can probably guess what the Nutcracker Rated R is all about—yup, sex, drugs, family secrets, and dolls. This is their seventh season running with Angela Harriell directing and choreographing the modern dancers. Watch as little teenage Clara goes on a binge of strip clubs, cocaine, and meets all sorts of unsavory characters. This is not my grandma’s Nutcracker. Playing at (Le) Poisson Rouge on December 20, 21, 27, and 28. Buy tickets here.

For a more traditional take on The Nutcracker ballet, The American Ballet Theatre’s version at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) is a safe, and wonderful bet. Choreographer Alexei Ratmansky puts the Tchaikovsky in his dancers feet as they prance around the stage to a live orchestra, bringing magic to the tale that, while the different takes are fun, the original is amazing. Playing at BAM now through December 16. Buy tickets here.