I’m just going to put it out there, even though I realize this isn’t going to be a popular statement: I’m not a fan of the Nutcracker.
I’ll add this to the list of things I don’t like – such as pumpkin pie and babies – that make people regard me with some combination of horror and disgust. Get over it. More for you. (Note: My friends’ babies are exceptions. Their pies are not.)
Anyway… I had a vague recollection of being bored stiff when seeing the Nutcracker as a kid, so I was curious to see if I’d enjoy it as an adult. Alan’s daughter is dancing in it for the first time, so we went to watch her performance last week.
Five Reasons I’m Not a Fan:
- I have no tolerance for mimes. I know, the thing is a ballet, so they’re primarily dancing, but a lot of the first act relies on people acting without talking. Also known as miming. I find it physically painful to watch a family of characters cross the stage pretending to have an animated conversation, moving their mouths like they’re chewing on the largest hunk of bubble gum known to man in an attempt to show us they’re talking.
- The story is lacking. In case you’re not familiar: a rich family throws a Christmas party, their daughter receives a Nutcracker that she loves, her brother breaks it, a magician mends it, the Christmas tree grows like it’s on steroids, and then she dreams that a bunch of people are dancing for her. Someone needs a lesson on plot development. And less LSD.
- The Sugar Plum Fairy is full of herself. The one thing the Nutcracker does pretty well is provide an opportunity to showcase a LOT of dancers. The scenes can accommodate a seemingly limitless number of dancers, so it’s the perfect show for making sure everyone has a role. Until the Sugar Plum Fairy takes the stage. Once she arrives, it turns into her show and you realize that all the other parts were just humoring the parents in an attempt to sell more seats. She single-handedly undermines the adage that, “There are no small roles, only small actors.”
- Really, a NUTCRACKER? When is the last time you saw a child get excited by a nutcracker? Probably NEVER, because they are inherently boring and hardly qualify as a toy. I know this story was developed long before American Girl Dolls were on the scene, so I’m not proposing they replace the title character with a modern toy. But SURELY there’s something more compelling from those days. I mean, even a corn husk doll (circa Little House of the Prairie) would be more exciting. Which says a lot.
- The Magician is creepy. I find it interesting that a holiday/children’s classic includes a character who is clearly a pedophile. His arrival with a trunk full of tricks would’ve been only marginally creepier if he’d pulled up in an ice cream truck. And has no one ever asked why he’s hiding behind a clock watching little Clara sleep?
So I might revise my opinion of The Nutcracker if someone would stage a version where Chris Hansen (from Dateline’s ” To Catch a Predator” series) made a cameo and busted the magician, and Kristen Wiig repeatedly photo-bombed the Sugar Plum Fairy’s scenes. Until that production is available, I’ll stay home.
Unless, of course, Alan’s daughter remains a ballerina. In which case, I’ll dutifully attend and clap during her scenes… and secretly try to enlist her in my battle against the Sugar Plum Fairy.