This isn’t the “Nutcracker” of your childhood.
In “Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker,” you’ll meet a few queens, but they’re not necessarily female. Instead of Charles Drosselmeyer, the magician/toymaker who presents Clara with a nutcracker in the original ballet has been turned into Charles Drosselmingus, who’s more interested in chasing skirts and swilling cocktails. And whoever heard of a Mouse King who comes on looking like Captain Hook and strips down to a gold g-string and rather lascivious tail?
“Land of the Sweets” doesn’t follow the “Nutcracker” plot; it’s “inspired by” the ballet. Drosselmingus (Japser McCann) serves an MC of sorts, introducing each number, performed to a jazzed-up, Rat Pack-esque version of Tchaikovsky’s music. McCann conceived and produced the show along with Lily Verlaine, who also appears in the show, which runs through December 28 at The Triple Door.
If you know the ballet, you’ll appreciate the in-jokes (the “Arabian Dance” is transformed into a sexy bath time number, “Dream of the Coffee Casbah”), but it’s certainly not essential to enjoy the show. The talented cast shimmies and shakes, bumps and grinds, and sheds some clothing (pasties are mandatory for both sexes), but it’s more playful and frisky than erotic (at least during the early show, which is 17-and-over; the late show is 21-and-over). Need we add that the costumes are fabulous?
The standout number of the night was “Heralds of the Land of the Sweets,” an acrobatic piece that drew the most vigorous applause of the night. “Gender-blending boylesque” performer Waxie Moon brought the Rat King to life, and “The Swingin’ Tree” used shadow play to good effect.
A word of caution when booking tickets; sitting at a table on the right side of auditorium, especially at the back, means you'll have a lot of distractions. Not only was the wait staff constantly going up and down the stairs, late arrivals were allowed to troop in at a steady rate the first full 30 minutes of the show, after which there was a regular procession of folks headed for the bathrooms. The overall experience was rather like watching a show in the middle of a subway station. Get a better table, and you’ll have a better experience.