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Enjoy a literal urban legend with ‘Urban Nutcracker’ in Boston

The 20th anniversary season of "Anthony Williams' Urban Nutcracker" kicks off at the Shubert Dec. 18.

The Urban Nutcracker. Courtesy Photo

There’s plenty to love about Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” — the Mouse King, Hans-Peter, that Drosselmeyer character, all the ballet — but did you ever wish it was more, well, urban? Turns out that since 2001 there’s been no need to wish: That’s when Anthony Williams’ brilliant “Urban Nutcracker” debuted, and if you haven’t seen it you’ve been missing out one of Boston’s most exciting and original holiday traditions.

Twenty years into its run, “Urban Nutcracker” — set in Boston and featuring a diverse cast engaging in a fusion of modern, multicultural and classical dance — continues to amaze and delight audiences of all stripes.


“There’s no other ‘Nutcracker’ like this,” Erika Lambe, who reprises her role as the Mother in this year’s production, told the Boston Globe. “Its whole intent is to speak to a more diverse audience, unlike the more traditional productions.”

Lambe, who was Boston Ballet’s first Black Sugar Plum Fairy in that more traditional version of “The Nutcracker,” credits Williams’ production with opening up new horizons in neighborhoods like Dorchester and Roxbury.

“Twenty years ago, people in this community wouldn’t even consider going to a ballet, but this has brought them into the theaters and gives kids exposure to dance, ballet in particular,” she told the Globe. “It’s such a holiday tradition.”

And it’s one you can — and should! — take part in when it celebrates its 20th anniversary at the Shubert Theatre Dec. 18-22.

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