(sub)version productions Presents THE BUTTCRACKER: A NUTCRACKER BURLESQUE Review — Shaking Tradition Up

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A young woman enters center stage excitedly carrying a large pile of presents. It’s our main character, Clara, played by Elena Avila. A janitor hurriedly sweeps the stage preparing for the evening and looks longingly at Clara. Suddenly, there’s a flurry of activity and other cast members rush to the stage. It’s time for a party!

They arrive in various colorful blazers from lime green, to plaid, to neon pink. An office Christmas party perhaps? The guests excitedly clamor around each other, hugging and taking selfies. Soon though, a figure arrives. It’s Drosselmeyer (Claire Francescon) here to shake things up a bit. She arrives donned in a festive Christmas suit emblazoned with Santas. This party is about to turn from button-ups to bottoms out as Drosselmeyer rips her suit away to reveal a red fishnet top and “Ho Ho Ho” booty shorts. Punctuated by the snap a fan exclaiming “Sleigh!” this is only the beginning of a different kind of Nutcracker. 

(sub)version's Buttcracker is Not Your Mother’s Nutcracker

You won’t find any pirouettes or arabesques in this production of The Buttcracker as it’s far from the traditional Nutcracker ballet playing elsewhere in Chicago.

However, this production nods to its roots with spins on the traditional characters from the original work. As Clara awakes from her sleep after the party, her nutcracker has indeed changed. The top of the gingerbread house bursts open and it’s the janitor! Now a newly human Buttcracker (Olivia Lindsay), she emerges dressed in a bright red bustier top, gold boots, and tulle skirt. 

Of course, we have an action packed battle between Clara, her Buttcracker, and the Rat King (Baby Bagos Hood) accompanied by her rat minions. Candy canes clash with black batons before our heroes emerge victorious over the rats. Things between Clara and her Buttcracker get heated as they celebrate their victory over the villains with a sexy and sultry striptease. 

Butts for Everyone

After the exciting first half of the show, the neutral wallpaper is torn away to reveal The Naughty List, a performance venue run by the effervescent Sugar Bum Fairy (Autumn Christensen). She welcomes Clara and the Buttcracker in, and though those three sit back to enjoy the show, the rest of us clap and cheer as we’re treated to burlesque, boylesque, and many more performances from the members of The Naughty List

Lilly Rascal takes the stage as Vodka and she gives us a shaken martini of a burlesque dance followed by Anghell getting down and sultry as Chocolate. Jezzibel also shows some skin, but not without a high stakes act of laying on a bed of nails to keep us on our toes. And of course, what would a trip to this land of sweets be without a dance from the Sugar Bum Fairy herself, tassels twirling and all..

Each of the performers —from these featured acts to the ensemble dance numbers —add their own excitement and holiday cheer to The Buttcracker. It’s noted in the program the featured acts change week to week, so you might be treated to a different lineup depending upon when you go!

The Buttcracker is a fun, holiday themed burlesque show that celebrates diversity, queerness, and body positivity. If you’re the type of person who enjoys cabaret style theater, drag shows, burlesque performances, or all of the above, this show would be a good fit for you. 


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Elena Avila*/^ (Clara)
Olivia Lindsay* (Buttcracker)
Claire Francescon* (Drosselmeyer)
Autumn Christensen* (Sugar Bum Fairy)
Baby Bagos Hood*/^ (Boss/Rat King)
Hannah Silverman* (ensemble)
Mandyn Mueller+/^ (ensemble)
Eilish Morse-O'Rourke* (ensemble)
Yasmyne Williams*/^  (ensemble)
Savannah Sinclair*/^ (swing)
Sierra Buffum*/^ (ensemble understudy)


Miguel Long+ (director)
Dylan Kerr* (choreographer)
Brighid Martensen*/^ (costume designer)
Gabrielle Strong* (set designer)
Samuel Stephen+ (lighting designer)
Rowan Doe^ (props designer)
Rae Segbawu^ (sound designer)
Jake Snell+ (stage manager)
Carlie Rummel* (backstage manager)
Kayla Drescher* (magic consultant)
Jaq Seifert^/(sub)version productions (producer)
Caylei Hallberg* (producing assistant)


December 1 - December 30, 2022

Sundays - 3 pm
Thursdays - 8 pm
Fridays - 8 pm
Saturdays - 8 pm


Greenhouse Theater Center
2257 N. Lincoln Ave.



For more information and tickets visit The Buttcracker: A Nutcracker Burlesque website.

Photos: Matthew Gregory Hollis

Note: Picture This Post reviews are excerpted by Theatre in Chicago.

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Alexis Bugajski

About the Author: Alexis Bugajski

Alexis is a theater reviewer, travel bug, media specialist, and burger & beer enthusiast. During the day she works in the advertising business as a senior communications designer. When night falls, or when she can escape to New York, she’s hitting the theaters to see as many shows as she can. And whenever she’s not at her desk or in the audience, she’s out seeking the best burger and beer offerings in Chicago.

Editor's Note:  Click here to read more Picture this Post articles by Alexis Bugajski

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