In the Chicago area, (or the whole coutry according to the ads,) the Joffrey Ballet's Nutcracker is clearly the best one to see-but also the most expensive. When you're used to it, any other productions are disappointing in comparison. Thank goodness for youtube-
One of my favorite things about the Joffrey Ballet's version happens at the end of the party scene. There's always a little boy in a wheelchair at the party. If I recall correctly, they used to have it so that at the end of the party, Godpapa Drosselmeier throws some magic dust on him and he rises out of his chair-a miraculous healing. Last year, from what I could see from my seat, I think the boy in the wheelchair was really a boy with a disability. Godpapa Drosselmeier gives him a special "magic" blessing as usual, but there's no miraculous healing-I think I like it better that way; it gives encouragement to individuals and families with disabilities without an unrealistic solution that won't really happen.