Stage Access Presents NUTCRACKER RELOADED Dance Review — Grimm-Exponential Hip-Hop Flavored WOW!

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Nutcracker devotees taking measure of the dazzling worldwide Nutcracker sampler that Stage Access offers might think to use the dreaded Rat King as their yardstick.  Here’s how it goes down in Sweden, or rather in choreographer Fredrik Rydman and his creative team’s atomic-powered imagination…

These rats make their entrance with the same scratching sounds that alert you to rodents. Creepy yes, but these are also rhythmic scratches that this rat pack uses to make its dance entrance. They seem to pour onto the stage through cracks.  They are dressed like the most famous rat pack of all – in shiny polyester suits that were all the rage in 60s Las Vegas. Each rat sports sunglasses that suggest they might break out singing Three Blind Mice Sinatra style.  They dance to the squeaks of their own rat mewling—and then do dance battle with the toys aligned with our heroine.  No cuddly doll toys they! Think instead of a break-dancing Nintendo character or Michael Jackson moon walk moves by a knight dressed in full armor or a laser-wielding Darth Vader. It’s a dance battle royale we never want to end — WOW!

The story begins when a rich man becomes ill and receives a diagnosis that he requires a new kidney due to Nutcracker Syndrome (a nut lodged in his organ).
Destitute beggars -- the parents of the long-lost Clara at the story center-- shake their hands like tambourines, in the part of the score that is traditionally danced by an Arabian style soloist.

NUTCRACKER RELOADED is a Most Modern Fairy Tale

Welcome to Rydman’s Nutcracker Reloaded, mixing Tchaikovsky’s score into an altered sequence and coupling it with hip-hop, jazz, modern, break dancing and more. You too might notice that Nutcracker Reloaded somehow lets you feel the music as never before.

It’s not just the dance style or the choice of toys catapulted to circa now, but everything.  Take that somewhat creepy uncle of the classic Nutcracker giving his niece a scare. In Rydman’s update he is an evil human trafficker who harvests organs from street urchins. This is Grimm imagination taking the fairy tale genre to 2.0, or 3. 0, or… exponential.

The ailing Mr. Moneybags-- costumed in red power heels and a turban Bette Davis might have worn-- meets the evil vampire human trafficker who will get him a new kidney in exchange for a LOT of money.
Homeless Clara longs to see her parents-- the beggars who are gifted a Nutcracker doll by Mr. Moneybags' son.
The evil human trafficker tricks Clara by showing her a photo of him with her unsuspecting parents, and giving her the nutcracker toy shown in the picture.

How perfect that the title character is half-puppet and sporting a tutu that might also land him a part in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.  One minute he’s en pointe puppet style to Tchaikovsky’s score.  Then he breaks into a mic’d hip-hop love song lament, with a refrain “Don’t go coming for my nuts.” What a hoot!

In this reviewer’s opinion the creativity explosion never stops.

A cutaway in the curtain puts the focus on street level for the pauper parents' dance.
This modern fairy tale includes the terrors of a chiropractic treatment.

If you too know a professional dancer or one-time professional who got their start with a child gig in the Nutcracker — as so many have, it seems -- ask them if they think they could ever dance on the level of the Nutcracker Reloaded troupe. This is one heckuva street move savvy ensemble. The vampire-like human trafficker’s jazz dance seems to bottle what you might call a menacing arachnid-like grace. Then there’s Clara, the homeless little girl in this villain’s gun sights who seems to not know a dance genre that she can’t perfect. When she does the classic ballet pas de deux with her Nutcracker near the finale, you too might feel disappointed by how girdled her life-force-on-legs seems by conventional ballet choreography.


It’s narrated by a manic and loveable actor who is keen to break the fourth wall– all in Swedish.   This writer recommends you google the storyline before you watch it a second time.

How could you possibly not want to watch it twice, thrice and more? That said, Nutcracker Reloaded is not for diehards who wince at even the slightest tweak of the classic version. This one is for the rest of us.



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To watch this recording of a Nutcracker Reloaded, visit the Stage Access website.


Images are screen grabs courtesy of Stage Access.

Read the related story -- Stage Access Presents NUTCRACKER CENTRAL — PICTURE PREVIEW

Amy Munice

About the Author: Amy Munice

Amy Munice is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Publisher of Picture This Post. She covers books, dance, film, theater, music, museums and travel. Prior to founding Picture This Post, Amy was a freelance writer and global PR specialist for decades—writing and ghostwriting thousands of articles and promotional communications on a wide range of technical and not-so-technical topics.

Amy hopes the magazine’s click-a-picture-to-read-a-vivid-account format will nourish those ever hunting for under-discovered cultural treasures. She especially loves writing articles about travel finds, showcasing works by cultural warriors of a progressive bent, and shining a light on bold, creative strokes by fledgling artists in all genres.


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