It’s presented by Company XIV which specializes in opulent bawdy dance extravaganzas. The only real and occasional sights of mild partial nudity are bare buttocks and breasts with pasties so it doesn’t cross over into the actually pornographic.
This is a revival of one their most successful shows. The pretext for it is a racy variation on Tchaikovsky’s perennial holiday classic, The Nutcracker, but it goes off on many outrageous tangents.
Executed as a revue, it’s series of dance and song sequences set in a recreation of a 1920’s style seedy Paris nightclub with 18th century visual flourishes. The score is heavy on Tchaikovsky but also cleverly incorporates Vivaldi, Duke Ellington, Christina Aguilera and Handel.
Bejeweled codpieces, sequined thongs, taut bustiers, powdered wigs, elaborate masks, frock coats, tutus, and leather harnesses, are among the eye-catching elements of Zane Pihlstrom’s lavish costume designs. Mr. Pihlstrom’s dazzling set is composed of spiral staircases, ramps, old-fashioned footlights, mirrors, a miniature carousel with a pole on top used for dancing, and a period-looking curtain.
Recalling John Allcott’s stunning candle-lit Oscar-winning cinematography for Stanley Kubrick’s film Barry Lyndon is Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew’s rich lighting design. Experienced often through a wafting mist of smoke it’s dim and murky and superbly enhances this provocative production.
Company creator Austin McCormick is the visionary who conceived this event. Mr. McCormick’s wild choreography and his energetic direction make for an enthralling spectacle of numerous Baroque hijinks celebrating sensuality. Interspersed are circus style numbers with trapeze, swings, rope flying, and gyrating hoops.
Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro” becomes an erotic bullfight with male dances in little else besides bull masks with elaborate horns. There’s also a ballet with male dancers in poodle masks wearing anatomically correct appendages. Of course there’s a flamboyant can-can.
“If I Knew You Were Comin’ I’d’ve Baked a Cake,” is a hilarious showstopper with a giant cake. It’s sung by the engaging Ms. Watson who also scores with “Candy,” “Sugar Shack,” and “Russian Lullaby.” She plays the saucy Madame Drosselmeyer who shepherds a young ballerina through the licentiousness and functions as the master of ceremonies. Her immense singing and comic skills is an anchor of the show.
In addition to Shelly Watson, the tremendously talented and physically stunning company is comprised of Hilly Bodin, Laura Careless, Lea Helle, Jakob Karr, Nicholas Katen, Ross Katen, Malik Kitchen, Mark Osmundsen, Davon Rainey, Marcy Richardson, Steven Trumon Gray, Brett Umlauf, Nicole von Arx. All are given and commandingly seize their moments in the spotlight as well as performing exquisitely is unison.
The good-natured eroticism of Nutcracker Rouge is showcased in this playfully decadent presentation that’s terrific adult merriment during the holiday season.
Nutcracker Rouge (through January 17, 2016)
The Minetta Lane Theatre, 18 Minetta Lane, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 1-800-745-3000 or visit http://www.companyxiv.com
Running time: two hours including one intermission