Crack That Nut, Girl

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

Morris's The Hard Nut makes Drosselmeier (terrifically played by Rob Besserer) the hero of a tale he tells to the feverish Marie, and his Act II world travels in search of the elusive hard nut occasion tongue-in-cheek national dances (the French all mince on pointe; the Russians—in Martin Pakledinaz's witty costumes—are fast-footed human bundles of ribbons). Besserer is also given impresario Serge Diaghilev's streak of white hair, but although his duet with his nephew may contain an in-joke about the relationship between Diaghilev and his protégé Vaslav Nijinsky, it's also a lesson in tender behavior. The story still has loose ends best not questioned. But the production—too long absent from BAM—is a delight. Here the sweetness of its final moments contrasts with the sleazy boisterousness of its 1970s party—all adults except for Marie and her brother. You can have fun just watching the sideline activity: Marjorie Folkman getting drunk, Morris getting drunker, Julie Worden (Marie's sister Louise) getting horny, John Heginbotham (Mrs. Stahlbaum) coping with hostess nerves, Kraig Patterson (the Housekeeper) tottering around in black pointe shoes. In another cross-dressing role, June Omura cleverly plays Fritz as not only bratty but in a constant state of rage. Tiny Lauren Grant is delightful as Marie. Although I miss the veer between excited optimism and disappointment that Clarice Marshall brought to the first-act party ("This is supposed to be marvelous. What's happening?"), she radiates joy in the final pas de deux with David Leventhal, which is more about rushing together and kissing than showing off steps.

Francis Patrelle's 19th-century Nutcracker, set at Gracie Mansion
photo: Hiroyuki Ito
Francis Patrelle's 19th-century Nutcracker, set at Gracie Mansion

The kissing comes when they're finally left alone. One of the beauties of Morris's initially flippant, joke-filled work, in addition to the multigendered dances for energetically drifting Snowflakes and lush Flowers, is that everyone in the ballet works to bring these two together; they are lifted by hordes of Chinese dancers and rats and soldiers and snowflakes and flowers and more, pouring onstage like waves of love to wash them into each other's arms.

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