Joel Hall's priceless version, now in its seventh year and newly rechristened "Nuts & Boltsthe Remix," occupies its own unique landscape in Nutcrackerland, born at a modern office but crossing, as all Nutcrackers must, a fantasy land of sugarplum fairies, princesses and magical mystery surprises.
Using not only the original Tchaikovsky, but also the Duke Ellington-Billy Strayhorn jazz treatment and house music in the mix, "Nuts & Bolts" is a marriage of 19th Century classicism and 20th Century jazz. For his part, Hall seamlessly blends ballet and sassy struts, waltzes and jitterbugs. This is a "Nutcracker" that hops cultures and genres.
For instance, Sugar Rum Cherry (snappily rendered by Jennifer Gage-Imburgia and Merrick M. Mitchell), boasts a sugary diva on her toes.
The waltz of the flowers segues into a celebration of house music, while a tin soldier cavalcade melds military moves with Michael Jackson revelry. Vanessa Truvillion and Angel Abcede stylishly toss in African-American and Latin hints into their "Chinois Chocolat."
Fusion, fusion and more fusion: Hall's popular tradition is a delight for "Nutcracker" and non-"Nutcracker" types alike. I caught this year's production, sporting Gregory W. Slawko's cartoon costumes and Jacqueline Penrod's bright new set, at an abbreviated preview for elementary students. They loved it, attuned to its broad humor and candy-coated attire, truly a painless lesson in cultural variety for all ages.