Monday, December 12, 2011

Septime Webre production of The Nutcracker

So I admit that there is part of me that shuddered when, after a Gilt City offer for cheap Nutcracker tickets landed in my inbox, I read that said production was very American. I am more than happy to claim the mantle of "libertarian, not conservative" when it comes to regulation of sex and speech. But when it comes to grammar and art, suddenly I start waxing traditionalist. There isn't really a right-wing tribe for aesthetes who happen to be hard-core free marketers, but if there were, I might prefer to fly their banner in lieu of "libertarian."

Anywho. All this is long prelude to way of saying that, despite the annoying advertisements about re-interpretation, the Septime Webre production of The Nutcracker is actually pretty likeable. First of all, at least the production has the good graces to stay in the right century; the children's costumes at the initial Christmas party scene are suitably Victorian. Mercifully, most of the rest of the Americanizing touches -- such as the rats cast as American soldiers rising up against King George, or the cherry blossoms scene -- manage not to feel too contrived.

Pnin said to me afterwards that it felt less lavish than a version of the Nutcracker that he'd seen growing up. And, indeed, this is a ballet that's meant to be produced on a grand scale; trying to stage it on a shoestring feels deeply wrong. Perhaps it's because I'm used to much cheaper theater, but I didn't notice it. Ultimately, recommended.

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