The Nutcracker
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★★★★ "The House Theatre's "The Nutcracker" has a lot to offer those brave souls beyond its affordability. With a book by Phillip Klapperich and Jake Minton, it's a piece with unusually broad appeal: Little kids get served cookies, and they can watch toys come to life and play in faux snow; older kids and teenagers can embrace the kind of Big Mythic Story With Death that this group tends to like; college students and 20- or 30-somethings won't feel like they're in some terminally unhip setting (the Chopin Theatre is in Wicker Park and has a cool, urban gestalt); and most of those on the wrong side of middle age will appreciate the freshness, warmth and concision of the show, as well as the wisdom of the message, which is about the ability of kids to work through their problems, assuming the adults in charge have learned how to get out of their way. Over the years I've watched families leave this show moving closer together. Not only is the theater small, it's set up in such a way that you can watch the people around you, which is a big part of the pleasure of this original theater piece." -Chris Jones