About This Blog

I really like theatre, and I like writing and talking about it.

This blog is mostly about my relationship with theatre, the moments that make me fall in love with this art form, and the times when we don't always get along.

I'll be writing about things that I like, that I think are good and interesting and want to share. I will probably also write about things that I don't quite get, or think are wierd. I may also write about things that aren't theatre, strictly speaking, because it's my blog and I can.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Alternative Holiday Entertainment- Nutcracker Style (Part 1)

As I mentioned in my last post, most people love traditional holiday entertainment to get them in the spirit of the season. As my co-worker describe it, people have "Christmas Programs" they go into, the traditional things that they can do to get themselves in the mode--baking cookies, decorating the tree, going ice skating, etc.

But some people are not really the traditional type. Maybe they find conventional holiday fare too schmaltzy or saccharine, or maybe it's just too...well...conventional. Why can't Christmas be edgy and modern?

These are the kind of people who would love Mark Morris' "The Hard Nut". I remember this playing on PBS when I was a kid taking ballet classes in the early 90's (yay, PBS!) I think my father recommended it to me, being a man with an eye for the strange and awesome.

The Hard Nut takes "The Nutcracker" out of an upscale Victorian European parlor, and puts it in a middle-class American living room in the 1960's. It's much more comical than usual, with Barbies and G.I. Joes taking the place of Columbina dolls and toy soldiers. Morris adds a healthy dose of androgyny and cross-dressing with a man playing the family maid (in toe shoes), and men AND women in tutus as the snowflakes.

The show isn't played entirely for laughs, though; the most beautiful pas de deux in the show is danced by Drosselmeyer and his nephew, The Nutcracker, slowly discovering his restoration.

In the second act, most productions head straight to the Land of Sweets and set up camp there. The Hard Nut actually goes into the backstory of Princess Pirlipat, and how the Nutcracker came to be transformed in the first place.

Another interesting stylistic feature is the concept art by American comic artist Charles Burns, who usually falls under the horror genre, and addresses themes such as adolescent sexuality (very appropriate for this tale).

The show is still performed every year, but if you can't get to Brooklyn, the DVD is available on Amazon.com. Now go stuff your stocking!

**EDIT: In an odd moment of synchronicity, the New York Times  posted an interview with Mark Morris on their website a few hours after I posted this: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/03/arts/dance/03hardnut.html


  1. Totally forgot about The Hard Nut! That's a great show. If you want to get even more adult with it, the burlesque show "The Slutcracker" is opening in Boston starting tomorrow: http://www.theslutcracker.com

    It was really amazing last year, hopefully we can get there again this year.

  2. Yeah, I want to re-watch this now, I forgot how good it was. And I'm sure there' stuff I'll 'get' now that I didn't when I was ten.

    Re: "Slutcracker"- that's actually going to be Part 2, I just can't write it until I get home from work :)