By David T. Valentin
If you had the lucky chance to see Company XIV’s Cocktail Magique and think you know what you’re getting into with their Nutcracker Rouge performance, you are wonderfully wrong. Their Nutcracker Rouge is an entirely different experience. And while there won’t be cocktail magic tricks having you wide eyed, mouth agape, the singing, dancing and flipping and spinning in the air will surely leave you enchanted all the same.
The space for Nutcracker Rouge takes the more traditional form of a theatre--leveled seating, a mix of love seats, stools and highchairs and a rounded stage where patrons can literally sit so close that they can use the stage as their table.
Company XIV’s Nutcracker Rouge, as its name suggests, is a gaudy, excessive extravaganza Burlesque version of the classical Nutcracker fairy tale ballet. Before the performance, performers hide their costumes under a fur coat cocoon, only to be shed to reveal gingerbread bras, peppermint-themed lingerie, and bedazzled jock straps complete with shiny gold cocks.
Yes, it is as wonderfully promiscuous and luxurious as you’re imagining.
But no Company XIV performance would be complete without a properly themed cocktail menu. The menu was topped off, significantly more diverse than even Cocktail Magique’s. Snow Queen, Nutcracker Prince and Candied Violet were only a few of the many elegantly named cocktails. I will warn you: while deliciously made, they are strong and they do sneak up on you.
I was actually more delighted with the cocktail selection for Nutcracker Rouge than Cocktail Magique’s. When I had gone, they had quite a few tequila cocktails, one or two gin cocktails, and a fair amount of bourbon cocktails whereas Nutcracker Rouge had something for everybody and something for every liquor.
Beware the Moon Midnight, apple pie drink served on the rocks that the performers serve during intermission. My boyfriend bought one for himself while I was in the bathroom, was iffy about getting me one, took one sip, and immediately ordered another. The apple pie Moon Midnight is a delicious blend of flavors, with soft tasting notes of cinnamon and icing—similar to a Cinnabon—with hard tasting notes of apple, flakey, buttery crust and just a tinge of that smoky, fireplace warmth. I will certainly be getting a bottle to sip on for this season, and for seasons to come.
As always, I left the theatre in a delightful, wonderland daze, wondering just how I could incorporate even just a fraction of luxuriousness that Company XIV makes you feel within their theatres.
What I really love about Nutcracker Rouge (that wasn’t as present in Cocktail Magique as it was in Nutcracker Rouge) was the way in which art and the body are incorporated into one, not so much in a sexual, promiscuous way, but in a way that celebrates the body and all that it is capable of.
As a society living in a hyper-capitalistic culture, we often separate the art from the artist as if the two are totally separate not only from themselves but everyday culture. The arts are often pushed into their own separate bubble, one removed from everyday culture to the point where it is simply something to be consumed but not something to be picked apart, observed and enjoyed; to the point where it is simply a hobby that happens behind closed doors by a faceless artist who goes unnamed and unappreciated.
What Nutcracker Rouge does so well is that it perfectly melds the performers and the art and the artist into one, to the point where the stage and its performers become indistinguishable from one another. The stage becomes a performer along with the audience, and the performers become the stage. The ropes, poles and hoops become a performer as their momentum is a dance along with the performer, as the performer surrenders themselves to the performance of the stage.
Nutcracker Rouge is a masterpiece in its entirely own category, one that I would definitely like to see again some day. The show runs through January 28th.