Dark is only light with the light switch turned off.
A couple days ago I scored some ridiculously priced tickets (cheap price because it was a preview performance + half-price Hot Tix discount = $10 tickets) to see House Theatre’s Nutcracker at Steppenwolf. Since it combined the forces of two of my favorite theatres it had to be a damn good show. I scooped up two and hoped that Alina would take up my offer to go…and luckily she did. So last night we headed off to Steppenwolf for the show.
I actually haven’t been to Steppenwolf since I interned there many moons ago (2002) which is a damn shame because I love the theatre so much (hence why I wanted to intern there in the first place). I actually hadn’t seen House since 2002 either with their big breakout “The Terrible Tragedy of Peter Pan.” They kind of have this tradition of taking classic stories and showing them from a completely different standpoint, and this Nutcracker was no exception.
Long story not-so-short: At a Christmas eve party a family learns that their son Fritz died in the war. Cut to the next scene, a year later. The daughter Clara has gone a bit nuts over the last year, doesn’t eat, talks to her dolls, and is convinced that rats are living in the walls that are prepared to attack. Of course, no one believes her…until her Uncle Drosselmeyer comes bringing her a new toy to help her: a Nutcracker with a striking resemblance to her dead brother. In the night, all of the toys come alive and prepare to battle the rats. Clara then wakes up each morning with her parents finding her, surrounded by her toys, tearing apart the kitchen, digging up her brothers memorial in the backyard, or scouring through the attic (with slit wrists from a “rat attack”) leading them to believe that she is even worse off and has tried to kill herself. In the end Clara makes it behind the walls to face off against the rat king, defeats him and leaves her toys behind to protect them from future invasions.
Oh, did I mention there was also a small pit orchestra? And it was a musical? And it was definitely not the ballet we all know and love? And that there was a monkey and a giant fuzzy wuzzy bear? And that it was kind of awesome?
It was a very good show and very…different. But at the same time that is exactly what you expect.
Things that turned me off…
1. I really hate watching people who aren’t really dancers dance on stage.
2. It was really hard to hear some of the actors singing/talking over the music. But I am deaf.
3. If memory serves there was only one sung song in the first act, which made it very confusing as to if it was a musical or not (there were several in the second act).
4. Parts of the ending were a bit anti-climactic.
All in all though it was an excellent show, and I’m looking forward to seeing House’s “The Sparrow” in a couple of weeks!