Looking for an alternative to all those goody-goody holiday shows? "The Slutcracker" begins its sixth season of sending up the beloved holiday ballet, “The Nutcracker,” in a raunchy burlesque parody beginning Saturday night at the Somerville Theatre.
Set to Tchaikovsky’s score (recorded by the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra in the Czech Republic) each Christmas season a diverse cast of performance artists and dancers breathes new life into the Christmas chestnut, by way of some blush-inducing props and risqué costumes.Traditionally, a burlesque is a parody or caricature of a more serious work. American burlesque shows added exotic dancers in the mid 19th century and those ribald acts gradually took over the performance form, so much so that now burlesque is commonly associated with striptease. While the recent revival tends to focus on female soloists, White explains that, especially in Boston, artists of all kinds are using the genre to explore and express complex themes.“You'll see expressions ranging from total blood and gore to silly and campy to ethereal and emotional,” says Vanessa "Sugar Dish" White, the show's producer. “In addition to ‘classic’ female gendered performers, there are a number of male and trans performers. A lot of performers use the genre to express or challenge gender issues, norms, and ideals. It’s a wonderful and liberating genre to work within, as there's no foremost authority on what it should be or look like.”
Having danced in several productions of the original ballet herself, White’s original goal was to create a beautiful show by combining her classical dance training with the freedom of performance that burlesque offers. While the performers use the E.T.A. Hoffman story as a guide, they’ve made the characters all adults. Clara and Fritz are no longer siblings, they are engaged to be married. When eccentric Auntie Drosselmeyer makes a gift of a magic toy (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), Clara is transported to a land of sexual fantasy.According to the Slutcracker website, they welcome “all genders, colors, shapes, sizes, and orientations. A person needn’t even be a slut to be part of or to enjoy the show.” White’s only requirements for performers are that they have some kind of dance training (several styles of dance are showcased) and a captivating stage presence. She explains “We've cast characters of all stripes, and those stripes change year to year depending on who turns out at auditions.”
White also thinks that inclusiveness is part of what is attractive to spectators. Audiences can relate to the performers and imagine themselves on stage. According to White, some of them DO end up on stage. And, as she explains, “In a culture that is notoriously uptight about sex, it's an opportunity for people to let their hair down and feel good about their sexuality, no matter what that might be.”
Robin Allen LaPlante is a local arts administrator who is skilled in the mystical arts of social media, ballet, and arts marketing. When not writing, she is baking delicious goodies, camping with her family, or playing with the crazy theater-makers at New Exhibition Room.
This program aired on November 29, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.