Stefan Goncalvez and José Pablo Castro Cuevas. Photo by Todd Rosenberg

Based on Mary Shelley's 19th-century novel-turned-pop culture classic, the ambitious production features sensational choreography, costumes, special effects, pyrotechnics, and an original score.

September 7, 2023 (Chicago) – The Joffrey Ballet opens its 68th season with the highly anticipated Chicago premiere of Liam Scarlett's critically acclaimed interpretation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. A gothic masterpiece set in the dawn of modern science, Scarlett's production of the 19th-century science fiction novel is a visceral, profoundly emotional tale of life, death, love, and identity. Set to an original sweeping score by Lowell Liebermann and immersed within the striking stage design by world-renowned artist of premiere ballets and operas John Macfarlane, this must-see Chicago premiere is one of the most innovative works of dance today. Frankenstein will be presented at the historic Lyric Opera House, 20 North Upper Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago, in ten performances only, from October 12–22, 2023. 

Frankenstein takes the audience on a captivating journey through scientist Victor Frankenstein's ambitious plan to animate a patchwork of lifeless body parts, setting in motion a detrimental chain of fateful events. John Mcfarlane's cinematic design transports audiences to Shelley's era with stunning period-piece costumes set in a dramatically lit, circular anatomy theater, combined with electrifying pyrotechnics and expertly rendered special effects makeup that transform previous notions of horror into an allegory of the human condition.

Shelley's "Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus" captivated popular audiences after its publication in 1818, with subsequent adaptations to numerous mediums and pop culture tropes that have stood the test of time. Scarlett's virtuosic choreography and Liebermann's theatrical score come together to capture the existential conditions of a burgeoning modern society, with its associated feelings of otherness and desire for acceptance in a rapidly changing world. 

“The Chicago premiere of Liam Scarlett’s Frankenstein is storytelling at the grandest scale, but with delicate emotion rendered in fine detail,” says The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director Ashley Wheater MBE. “Frankenstein suggests that otherness—and subsequent acceptance of the darkest parts of ourselves—is part of the human experience. We honor the memory of Scarlett, whose artistry in reimagining of Shelley's epic story takes form through the movement of the Joffrey’s electrifying dancers, a pulsating original score, and a fascinating set design.”

“As we embark on our 68th season at the Joffrey, we are propelled by an unyielding commitment to artistic exploration. Under the visionary leadership of Ashley Wheater, we have the privilege of sharing Liam Scarlett's masterwork of Frankenstein with Chicago,” adds President and CEO Greg Cameron. “Today, this creative ambition extends past the stage into all aspects of our organization. From nurturing the next generation of dancers in the Joffrey Academy, sharing dance throughout Chicago's 77 neighborhoods with our Community Engagement programs, to our newly renovated facilities fostering a thriving environment across all of our departments, the Joffrey’s impact in the arts resonates within every corner of our city."  

Frankenstein is a co-production of London's Royal Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet. Scarlett's production received its premiere to critical acclaim at the Royal Opera House in 2016, followed by its North American premiere in 2017. 

Frankenstein features live music performed by the Lyric Opera Orchestra, conducted by Scott Speck, Music Director of The Joffrey Ballet.

With gratitude to Frankenstein Producing Sponsor Margot and Josef Lakonishok, Presenting Sponsor Anne L. Kaplan, Production Sponsor Mary Jo and Doug Basler, and Costume Sponsor Jane Ellen Murray Foundation.

Ticket Information

The Joffrey Ballet presents Liam Scarlett’s Frankenstein from Thursday, October 12 to Sunday, October 22, 2023, at the Lyric Opera House, 20 North Upper Wacker Drive. The full schedule is as follows: Thursday, October 12 at 7:30 PM; Friday, October 13 at 7:30 PM; Saturday, October 14 at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM; Sunday, October 15 at 2:00 PM; Thursday, October 19 at 7:30 PM; Friday, October 20 at 7:30 PM; Saturday, October 21 at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM; and Sunday, October 22 at 2:00 PM.

Single tickets start at $36 and are available for purchase at Lyric Opera Box Office located at 20 N. Upper Wacker Dr. and by telephone at 312.386.8905, or online at

About The Joffrey Ballet

The Joffrey Ballet is one of the premier dance companies in the world today, with a reputation for boundary-breaking performances for more than 60 years. The Joffrey repertoire is an extensive collection of all-time classics, modern masterpieces, and original works. 

Founded in 1956 by pioneers Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino, the Joffrey remains dedicated to artistic expression, innovation, and first-rate education and engagement programming. The Joffrey Ballet continues to thrive under The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director Ashley Wheater MBE and President and CEO Greg Cameron.

The Joffrey Ballet is grateful for the support of its 2023–2024 Season Sponsors: Abbott Fund, Alphawood Foundation Chicago, Daniel and Pamella DeVos Foundation, Anne L. Kaplan, Margot and Josef Lakonishok, and The Florian Fund. Live Music Sponsors: Sandy and Roger Deromedi, Sage Foundation, The Marina and Arnold Tatar Fund for Live Music. The Joffrey also acknowledges our Season Partners: ATHLETICO and Chicago Athletic Clubs.