The Joffrey Ballet’s Reimagined Nutcracker Boasts a New Setting

by Michael Eddy
The Joffrey Ballet’s reimagined The Nutcracker
The Joffrey Ballet’s reimagined The Nutcracker

CHICAGO, IL—After almost ten years in the making, The Joffrey Ballet introduced its world premiere and reimagined version of The Nutcracker this winter. While Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s alluring music remains, the rest of the show got a complete makeover as created and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. This included the Broadway scaled set designed by Julian Crouch, of which nine major pieces were tasked to Chicago Scenic Studios Inc. (CSSI)

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Not only did the scenery have to fill The Joffrey’s stage, but as a traveling show, it also needed to have the ability to be versatile enough to accommodate different venues. CSSI took the initiative through many meetings with the Joffrey design and production teams and countless hours researching ideas to create a set that would be structurally sound yet as light as possible.

“While scenery is intended to be “light and portable” the set design lent itself to large and heavy…Our solution was to laser-cut aluminum for the World’s Fair Traveler pieces. This satisfied the visual and structural needs and was a lightweight solution that we could attach the scenic fabric to,” said Stefan Koniarz, project manager for Chicago Scenic Studios.

CSSI also conscientiously chose materials that would be resilient and easy for travel, considering aspects such as how a piece breaks down to fit in a truck, load into a theatre, and assemble in the space to make traveling effortless. All the materials used are easily located in stores along the route of the performance, should there be a need for repair or replacement.