Nutcracker Rougue

New York is never at a loss for sparkling decorations during the holiday season. Brightly lit trees and adorn every street corner, and the window displays on Fifth Avenue probably keep the glitter companies in business year-round. But when seeing Nutcracker Rouge, the delectably sensual production by Company XIV at the Minetta Lane Theatre, this critic was introduced to a new use for glitter during the holidays: codpieces.

The annual holiday burlesque show follows the story of the beloved holiday classic loosely as it tells the story of Marie-Claire (Laura Careless) paying a visit to the Kingdom of Sweets that inspires her sexual awakening. Her journey is narrated by Madame Drosselmeyer played by Shelly Watson, whose skillful vocals, whether flirtatious, aggressive or eerie, set the mood for each scene of Marie’s succumbing to her vices as she encounters candied cherries, candy canes, Turkish delights and licorice boys.

All of the dance numbers are a feast for the eyes, whether set to remixed numbers by Tchaikovsky or vintage pop songs like “Lollipop” or the more recent Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro.” One of the evening’s highlights features Marcy Richardson singing Sia’s pop hit “Chandelier” while suspended midair and performing seemingly gravity-defying aerobatics.

Marie-Claire’s sexual awakening is celebrated in a pas de deux, danced with the impressive Steven Truman Gray as the Nutcracker Cavalier.

The scenes are feasts for the eyes, with designer Zane Pihlstrom dressing – or, sometimes not dressing – each of the actors to celebrate their sensuality. The skillfully evocative lighting, by Jeanette Yew, only enhances the mood.

Audiences will, no doubt, leave the theatre covered in glitter and find glitter among their belongings for days to come.

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