Close
Current temperature in Boston - 62 °
BECOME A MEMBER
Get access to a personalized news feed, our newsletter and exclusive discounts on everything from shows to local restaurants, All for free.
Already a member? Sign in.
The Bay State Banner
BACK TO TOP
The Bay State Banner
POST AN AD SIGN IN

Trending Articles

Former 1090 WILD-AM director Elroy Smith to host reunion for some of Boston’s best radio personalities

Breaking new ground: Break dancing debuts as sport at 2024 Paris Olympics

Eastern Bank and Cambridge Trust join forces

READ PRINT EDITION

‘Urban Nutcracker’ — the holiday classic with a Boston twist returns

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
‘Urban  Nutcracker’ — the holiday classic with a Boston twist returns
Scene from the 2019 production of Anthony Williams’ “Urban Nutcracker.” PHOTO: PETER PARADISE MICHAELS

Anthony Williams’ “Urban Nutcracker,” a holiday tradition sparkling with city pride, returns to the stage Dec. 17–23 at the Boch Center Shubert Theatre. Centering diversity, accessibility and a characteristically Boston setting, the production has been bringing a community version of the classic holiday story to the stage for more than 20 years.

“Urban Nutcracker” was pioneered two decades ago by Anthony Williams, the first Black company dancer in the Boston Ballet. Seeking a version of the ballet that was more inclusive to all Bostonians, Williams fused Duke Ellington’s music with Tchaikovsky’s classic score and adapted the show to be set in our very own city.

Scene from the 2019 production of Anthony Williams’ “Urban Nutcracker.” PHOTO: PETER PARADISE MICHAELS

“Our production draws in many aspects of Boston and its backdrops — it is really a show I created to honor Boston and our history. I am happy to have a true ‘Boston Nutcracker,’ because it pays homage to the city and its many iconic landmarks,” says Williams. During the show’s journey, audience members see Fenway Park, the iconic Citgo sign, the streets of Dorchester, the Public Garden’s “Make Way for Ducklings” statues and more classic Boston scenes.

Performed by the City Ballet of Boston, the show also includes cameos by performers like legendary tap dancer Khalid Hill (most recently of “Spirited,” starring Will Ferrell, Ryan Reynolds and Octavia Spencer), local hip-hop master Ricardo Foster Jr. and Uganda-born star ballerina Victoria Jaenson.

Scene from the 2019 production of Anthony Williams’ “Urban Nutcracker.” PHOTO: PETER PARADISE MICHAELS

“Our production captures the essence of the traditional ‘Nutcracker’ story, while using the glorious music of Tchaikovsky along with the inner-city twist of the incomparable Duke Ellington, played live by the Urban Nut/Band,” says Williams. “We feature ballet with snowflake fairies dancing en pointe to tap, hip-hop, flamenco and swing.”

This year, the longstanding Drosselmeyer Gianni DiMarco will pass the baton to two new dancers, Sabi Varga and Toby Towson, to take on the role of mischievous and magical uncle. “Urban Nutcracker” is also leaning into LGBTQ+ inclusion more than ever. The closing night of the show on Friday, Dec. 23 will feature same-sex dance and romantic pairings, male dancers in drag and en pointe, and a cameo from local drag artist Patty Bourrée.

In an additional accessibility option for those who can’t make it in person, the full performance of “Urban Nutcracker” will air on GBH 44 television on Dec. 17 with a companion behind-the-scenes documentary at the end.

Williams hopes the performance will continue to bring joy and representation to the Boston community. “One never gets bored while watching the many dance styles,” he says. “For 21 years, Anthony Williams’ Urban Nutcracker has been celebrating diversity through dance.”