For generations, The Nutcracker has been a beloved holiday favorite for audiences of all ages. Last winter, Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet gave the work an ingenious makeover and a new setting: the fairgrounds of Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Now, WTTW will go behind the scenes to reveal how it was made and introduce audiences to the A-list creative talents who made it happen.
Joffrey artistic director Ashley Wheater gathered together a stellar group of theatre artists, including Tony Award®-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon; Caldecott Medal-winning author Brian Selznick, writer of the book that inspired the Oscar-winning film Hugo; MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’ recipient Basil Twist; renowned puppeteer and Tony Award®-nominated scenic designer Julian Crouch; and Tony Award®-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz to reimagine the story of Clara, the privileged daughter of a 19th-century German merchant who falls asleep on Christmas Eve and dreams of a world of sweets. As a result of this new A-list team of collaborators, the classic story evolved into the story of Marie, the daughter of a 19th-century Polish immigrant sculptress – a single mother working on a statue for the World’s Fair – who falls asleep on Christmas Eve and dreams of a completed and wondrous fairground, transforming this European import into a magical American story.
In WTTW’s hour-long documentary, produced by Daniel Andries and premiering in November 2017, viewers will go behind the scenes with these visionaries as they strove to realize the vision for this striking original production. The film, which will also explore the history of the ballet, its success in the United States following the Second World War, and the history of the city of Chicago, is sure to be a visual and historical feast celebrating imagination, beauty, dreams, and the power of dance – a holiday gift for public television audiences across the country.
“It has been an honor to collaborate with the talented people at the Joffrey on this unique production,” said Andries. “Working with them has been a fascinating and fun experience.”
“The inaugural season of Christopher Wheeldon’s The Nutcracker was enjoyed by thousands in attendance at Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre last winter. For those who experienced the magic ‘live’ and those unable, we’re pleased to be able to share his labor of love with audiences all around Chicago and beyond,” said Wheater.
THE NUTCRACKER BEHIND THE SCENES will premiere on WTTW11 and wttw.com/watch, and throughout the country on public television stations in November and December 2017 (check local listings).
THE NUTCRACKER BEHIND THE SCENES is made possible through the generosity of The Grainger Foundation, Lake Forest, IL.
WTTW is a premier public media organization committed to creating and presenting unique television and digital media content across four distinct television channels – WTTW11, WTTW Prime, WTTW Create/WTTW WORLD, and WTTW PBS Kids – and on wttw.com. Recognized for award-winning local and national productions such as Chicago Tonight, Check, Please!, 10 Buildings, Homes, Parks, and Towns That Changed America, and Soundstage, WTTW presents the very best in public affairs, arts and culture, nature and science, history and documentary, and children’s programming. Connect with WTTW on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
About The Joffrey Ballet
The Joffrey Ballet is a world-class, Chicago-based ballet company and dance education organization committed to artistic excellence and innovation, presenting a unique repertoire encompassing masterpieces of the past and cutting-edge works. The Joffrey is committed to providing arts education and accessible dance training through its Joffrey Academy of Dance and Community Engagement programs.