Anthony Williams’ ‘Urban Nutcracker’ puts soul (and krump) into a holiday classic

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Now in its 13th season, Anthony Williams’ “Urban Nutcracker” returns to the John Hancock Hall stage bursting with excitement and Boston-centric detail.

This “Nutcracker” is more than an adaptation of the classic holiday fairy tale. It does riff on Tchaikovsky’s score, but theirs is a smooth, swanky, jazz interpretation by Duke Ellington. The urbanized “Hubcracker” version reflects Boston’s multicultural vibe, embracing diverse forms of dance like tap, hip-hop, swing, flamenco, step and jazz. The show also features 75 local children.

The prologue is always entertaining, and this year’s street battle is no exception. It’s tap versus hip-hop krump and it is fantastic. Urban tapper Khalid Hill battles local krumper Russell Ferguson (a winner of “So You Think You Can Dance”). Whether it’s freestyled or completely choreographed, you could watch these two — true masters of their crafts — go at it all night. Ferguson also shines as Soldier Doll and Russian Caviar Caper.

Young dancer Alexa Wang (Clarice) is a joy to behold. She beams throughout her entire performance, so clearly enjoying her moment onstage. Other winning performers include the return of Tony Award-winner Yo-el Cassell as the quirky Minimeyer, a group of bopping, blue unitard-clad dancers and Kseniya Melyukhina in her turn as the Sugar Plum Fairy.

New to the annual show is a scene in Boston’s Public Garden in which Clarice and the Nutcracker Prince are led through the snow by a sleigh pulled by ducklings, inspired by Robert McCloskey’s “Make Way for Ducklings.” In a thrilling Grand Pas de Quatre the Sugar Plum Fairy is accompanied by three male dancers from the ensemble (Russel Ferguson, Marquise Hitchcock-Jones and Rick Vigo), along with Drosselmeyer (Gianni Di Marco), who replaced an absent Nutcracker Prince in the second act.

You haven’t seen the “Nutcracker” like this before.

If you go

Through Dec. 22
John Hancock Hall
180 Berkeley St., Boston
$25-$85, (888) 596-1027
urbannutcracker.com


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