November 26th, 2005


A fun show ...

Wheee! We just got back from the grand opening performance of Emerald City Theatre's A Nutcracker Christmas (up at the Apollo Theater at 2540 N. Lincoln) ... and while it it pitched to families with kids (and is cetainly appropriate for the kiddies), it is hilarious in its own right. Frankly, I think I enjoyed it more than did my 9- and 5-year-old daughters!

This is a strange "modern" musical take on the classic Nutcracker story ... starring instead of dance-obsessed Clara, her video-game addicted brother Fritz, and with a female nutcracker (and, no, they "didn't go there" with the very tempting joke). The whole "Mouse King" thing is interwoven into the video game that Fritz is champion of, and his reaching the never-before-obtained "Level 22" allows the Mouse King to bridge realities. The Mouse King has most of the best lines (like: "I need to get a new temp agency, I ordered henchmen and they sent me Frenchmen" ... which also served to set up some "ripe" cheese jokes!), and leads a catchy new "anti-Christmas" tune:

                    Let's ruin Christmas -- let's throw it all away
                    It's always been over-rated
                    Let's call the whole thing off -- let's wreck the holiday
                    I never liked it anyway

There is also a Elton Johnesque "Mayor of Toytown", and several other "out there" characters which at times come close to being creepy but never quite cross that "kiddy show" line. They even have some cute little kids as sugarplum fairies (well, except for when they're on the boat, at which point they're the Ferry faries!), to bolster the "wholesome" side of the equation. All in all, the show reminded me of numerous far-edgier "twisted kids show" productions that I've seen over the years, but it managed to do this while still staying in "G" territory (but providing the adults in the audience plenty of opportunities to "make up their own jokes" for bits left subtly hanging).

I highly recommend this as a cure for the typical Holdiay saccharine ... I hope they make it a yearly event! However, being a "holiday" show, it only runs through New Year's, so if you want to catch it, you'll have to act quickly (and get to Chicago, obviously).

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