Sunday, January 31, 2016

Nutcracker Rouge


Of all the holidays’ manifestations of The Nutcracker, Nutcracker Rouge, from Company XIV and AMDM Productions, has to be one of the most delicious! Ballet with pasties and thongs!

There are a lot of other features as well – modern dance, tap, song, gymnastics, burlesque… It’s racy, risqué, delightful, a Nutcracker like no other. The dance centers on Marie Claire, danced by Laura Careless, who receives a gift of the familiar nutcracker. We watch as she passes through a series of scenes, a riff on The Nutcracker, combining high culture and pop culture. We hear The Waltz of the Flowers and The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, but we also hear We’ve Got your Love To Keep Us Warm (Irving Berlin’s I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm) and the barbershop song Lollipop (“Lollipop, Lollipop, Oh Lolli-Lolli-Lolli Lollipop”). Not to mention the scatting!

The production is conceived, choreographed and directed by Austin McCormick. He keeps things moving deftly through the various musical idioms, surprising us repeatedly with the pop songs. His choreography is by turns delicate, athletic, playful – and always sexy. Whether they’re executing petit jetéto Tchaikovsky or tapping to The Peppermint Twist, the company is marvelous.

The character of Madame Drosselmeyer, sung with great skill by Shelly Watson, is a sort of hostess. Whether she’s singing If I Knew You Were Coming I’d’ve Baked a Cake or lending her face and hands to a giant puppet, Ms. Watson has marvelous humor. 

At a point early in the show, dancers are wound up with keys in their backs. There’s a hail of glitter falling in front of a huge mirror. There are a pair of male twins with a female dancer in one of the best numbers, Turkish Delight, and Marcy Richardson has a terrific act in which she sings while performing in a Cyr wheel. Marie Claire transitions from an innocent to a bad girl scene by scene, from a dress to pasties.

There’s an orgy at the end in which the show becomes lewd, but for most of the evening  Nutcracker Rouge is artistic, sexy fun.

Steve Capra
January 2016