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Mark Morris' 'The Hard Nut'
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Author:  Azlan [ Sun Dec 09, 2001 12:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Mark Morris' 'The Hard Nut'

Images from "The Hard Nut," now playing at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, CA:<P><BR> [img]../../../images/mmdg-hardnut1.jpg[/img] <P><BR> [img]../../../images/mmdg-hardnut2.jpg[/img] <P><BR> [img]../../../images/mmdg-hardnut3.jpg[/img] <P><p>[This message has been edited by Admin (edited December 11, 2001).]

Author:  Azlan [ Sun Dec 09, 2001 12:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris' 'The Hard Nut'

A previous thread on this wacky take on the Nutcracker:<P><a href=../../../ubb/Forum5/HTML/000029.html target=_blank>Mark Morris' Hard Nut</a>

Author:  Azlan [ Mon Dec 10, 2001 7:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris' 'The Hard Nut'

Another fine review:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Mark Morris' outrageous 'Hard Nut' keeps its zing<P>Octavio Roca, SF Chronicle<P>No matter how much you love "The Nutcracker," you will love it even more after seeing "The Hard Nut." The unique holiday treat returned in all its outrageous glory to Zellerbach Hall on Friday night.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><a href= target=_blank>More</a>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Dec 10, 2001 9:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris' 'The Hard Nut'

I wonder if London will ever get the chance to see 'The Hard Nut'? Maybe the Zellerbach afficianados will tire of it eventually.

Author:  Azlan [ Mon Dec 10, 2001 9:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris' 'The Hard Nut'

Copied from the Modern Dance forum, <B>from Toba Singer, a review of Hard nut</B>:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Have you, or has anyone dear to you danced 56 performances of "The Nutcracker" in six weeks, managed to grab time for coffee at a Starbucks two steps from the stage door, only to hear the Tchaikovsky score piped via Musak into that one and only temporary refuge? Feeling stalked by a relentless Nutcracker culture is what must have inspired Mark Morris to kick open the crack in "Hard Nut" for a broad range of appreciative audiences in the Bay Area (and Brooklyn).<P>As funny as those sequences that don't rely on knowing the story or choreography of Nutcracker may be, for those who have seen "The Nutcracker" once or repeatedly, Morris' send-up is all the more hilarious. Examples: The cast member who plays Drosselmeier is warned 'round about October not to play the character as a dirty old man. This Drosselmeier (Rob Besserer) can't resist a litle peek up Marie's skirt as he preens and fluffs it. When this Drosselmeier does his three grand arm sweeps, the clock gorws instead of the tree (the tree grows later, along with the family sofa).<P>The suburban '70s retro set opens on a Christmas-party licentiousness that is far more frequently associated with the holidays than the sentimental scene we get in the original. The slow-paced gavotte danced by the guests is instead a series of seventies Saturday Night Fever-type favorites. Michelle Ward and Joe Bowie set the pace with a red-hot rendering of The Bump. Instead of a wooden soldier pairing with a wind-up doll, we have a doll and a robot, who dance the can-can with Drosselmeier and Mrs. Stahlbaum. Drosselmeier doesn't waste any time remonstrating the trying little Fritz (Joan Omura). He simply gives him the shortest glimpse of what's under his eye patch--and to great effect. Fritz is so freaked, that he proceeds to pull a hamstring on his next foray into danger. Marie (Lauren Grant) punches Fritz in the stomach, as the nuclear (family) meltdown continues to the accompaniment of Mrs. Stahlbaum (danced ever so maternally by Peter Wing Healey) popping pills, and the guests sloshing through the cocktail hour. Mark Morris is at his best when dancing the mutton-chopped guest who traipses onstage with a swag of toilet paper stuck to his shoe before collapsing in a stupor onto the sofa.<P>Remote-controlled rats with red electronic eyes skitter across the stage to presage Marie's dream. The Adrienne Lobel sets are Warhol-like depictions of suburban Scandia-modern decor. As the Christmas tree and sofa grow, diminutizing Marie and her dream characters, the G.I. Joes emerge. They make short work of beheading their mouse opponents for God to sort out. What's left standing at the end looks more like 6 a.m. at the End-Up Bar on Harrison and Sixth Streets than the chaotic confusing pile-up of balky adolescents who dance this scene in the Nutcracker equivalents we've seen.<P>Before we know it, we're into Snow, which is less of a pas de deux and more of a corps de ballet triumph. The use of the live University of California Women's Chorus adds dimension to this lovely riff. Snow does not descend from above, as is traditional. Instead dancers adroitly exit the stage and return with fistfuls of the stuff, which they discharge at the peak of every grand jete. Arms are in the walk-like-an-Egyptian pose just before they let go the white stuff. At other times, a big wad of it is launched from an arabesque arm. In this heavenly snowball fight, the dancers are never off the fast-paced music, adding to the comedy. They are bare feet, both sexes in what traditionalists would consider girl costumes. Working in parallel (or what used to be called "turned in") lends yet another comedic dimension to this riotous number. Technique--well--it's hard to say much about technique. Some of the dancers have more, better technique than others. All bring exuberance and fine timing to their ensemble work, and that more than meets the requirements of the piece.<P>In Act II, a giant Mercator Projection map is displayed above the stage. At the start of the Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Arabian variations, a red bulb lights up the corresponding countries on the map, perhaps a helpful guide for some whose '70s-or-thereafter education did not include Geography. Morris dances the Arabian variation, diaphanously-swathed as if nude, with a coryphee of suitors who, shoulders on floor, undulate their pelvises in the air with great expectation. It is not a beautiful sight, given that Morris' body is rather corpulent at this stage of the game. The segment brings to mind a Lamaze class, or even floor barre, rather than something more Casbah-inspired. The Spanish variation leans heavily on the original, if only a bit more outre. Sugar Plum--or was it Marzipan?--is a very clipped "Ladies Who Shop" piece. The two leadies are accompanied by attendants, one of who looks suited up to be an elevaor operator, and we can't help but think that the inspiration here comes from "The Nutcracker Suite" droning endlessly from department store elevator speakers during Christmas season. Flowers droop until inspired to stand erect by the love between the Hard Nut Cracker and Marie. In order to fit the music, the joke goes on a bit long. This is the only shortcoing of the farce: The jokes don't always hold the audience long enough to accommodate the music, and so there are a few moments when our atteniton wanders or drifts into dreamland--ours, not Marie's. <P>Overall, we laugh and laugh even more, and enjoy the tempi, the music, the caricatures and the all-out assault on the nuclear family and its self- and other adornments. As I left the theater with the person who accompanied me, he remakred, "I guess it's worth taking another look at Nutcracker after seeing this." So, after all is said and done, one hand washes the other: in life, in snow, and in nuts.<BR><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Author:  LMCtech [ Tue Dec 11, 2001 3:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris' 'The Hard Nut'

From Rachel Howard at the Examiner.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>A fine send-off for Mark Morris' swell send up <BR> <BR>By Rachel Howard<BR>Examiner Dance Critic<BR> For the last six years Bay Area dance lovers have faced a most welcome dilemma: How to keep a straight face during San Francisco Ballet's splendid but traditional "Nutcracker" after giggling your way straight through Mark Morris' "Hard Nut" the weekend previous? How to ooh and ahh over those dainty, traipsing snowflakes after snorting at Morris' stomping, Dairy Queen-costumed vision of the same dance just days before?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank><B>more...</B></A>

Author:  LMCtech [ Wed Dec 12, 2001 9:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris' 'The Hard Nut'

A few little factoids, but the first is sad news indeed.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>It could be curtains for 'Hard Nut' <BR>Cal Performances says show will go on hiatus next year<P>David Wiegand <P>Mark Morris' "The Hard Nut" has been a fixture in the Bay Area since 1996, but after this year's stint it will head to the North Pole for a while, says Cal Performances.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank><B>more...</B></A>

Author:  LMCtech [ Thu Dec 13, 2001 1:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris' 'The Hard Nut'

The "Hard Nut" has a cheering section at the Examiner.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>A holiday roll call <BR> <BR>By Tiger Hashimoto<BR>Of The Examiner Staff<BR> I know folks who liked the San Francisco Opera's "Jenufa" so much they traded their "Merry Widow" subscription seats to see it a second time. They were the smart ones. The ones asking "Should I see 'Jenufa'?" now are too late.<P> Don't make the same mistake with Mark Morris' "The Hard Nut" on its last ever run in Berkeley. Cal Performances honcho and "Hard Nut" conductor Robert Cole has provided the Mark Morris Dance Group with a West Coast haven. Wildly cheering balletomanes are the beneificiaries.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank><B>more...</B></A>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Dec 19, 2002 5:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris' 'The Hard Nut'


SENDING up one of ballet's sacred cows with style, humor and good nature, as choreographer Mark Morris does triumphantly in "The Hard Nut," can leave even jaded audiences virtually ecstatic.

It is nine years since New York last saw Morris' wickedly clever yet affectionate deconstruction of that grand old classic, "The Nutcracker."

"The Hard Nut" returned Tuesday to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, as a close to BAM's 20th Next Wave Festival, and it seemed naughtier and more enchanting than ever.

Like opera, ballet is a very easy art to make fun of. The secret of Morris' success with his comic-book inspired "The Hard Nut" is that he treats the original with an urbane respect.

click for more

Author:  LMCtech [ Fri Dec 05, 2003 12:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris' 'The Hard Nut'

Back in Berkeley next week. I'm going. I haven't seen it in years.
From the SF Chronicle.

Janice Berman

"The Hard Nut," Mark Morris' brilliant tear-away from the traditional "Nutcracker" ballet, glorifies Tchaikovsky's score while first rolling audiences in the aisles and then moving them to tears. "The Hard Nut" is nothing without Drosselmeier, the man of mystery who drops in on the Stahlbaums' Christmas party. Ever since the Mark Morris Dance Group premiered the ballet in Brussels in 1991, the role has belonged to one dancer -- Rob Besserer.

Author:  LMCtech [ Mon Dec 15, 2003 11:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris' 'The Hard Nut'

From the SF Chronicle.

'Hard Nut' a funny-sad, campy spin on love, hope

Michael Wade Simpson, Special to The Chronicle

Proof of genius: the ability to create a new, old chestnut. Mark Morris' "Hard Nut" hoses all the sugar off the "Nutcracker Ballet," which has become a kind of sad industry in America, and transforms it into a thing of grace and beauty, but also of camp humor, bare feet and drag.

<small>[ 15 December 2003, 12:46 PM: Message edited by: LMCtech ]</small>

Author:  LMCtech [ Wed Dec 17, 2003 12:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris' 'The Hard Nut'

From the SJ Mercury News.

`Hard Nut' droll but has a soft heart
By Anita Amirrezvani
Mercury News

Mark Morris' zany retelling of the ``Nutcracker'' is set in a 1960s suburban home, where a yule log burns on a big TV, the maid has attitude, the party guests do the bump, and mom is a guy in drag.

But it would be mistake to see ``The Hard Nut'' as pure spoof. The show, which repeats Thursday through Sunday at UC-Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall, toys with conventions while honoring time-honored ``Nutcracker'' themes: the generous spirit of Christmas and a young girl's first experience of falling in love.

Author:  LMCtech [ Wed Jan 07, 2004 4:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris' 'The Hard Nut'

Sorry this review has taken so long. That's the last time I hand knit all of my Xmas gifts.

Mark Morris Dance Group
The Hard Nut
Zellerbach Hall
Berkeley, CA
December 12, 2003

After about fifteen year of watching different variations of the same boring Nutcracker, it was quite a blast of refreshing sarcasm that I saw the early 1990’s when Mark Morris brought The Hard Nut back from its birthplace Belgium. A 1960’s party scene complete with hippies, Arabian men in burnooses and sunglasses, GI Joe dolls in the battle scene. It was a dream to a cynical college student. A decade later, it hasn’t lost any of it’s bite or appeal.

This is still a very clever production. It takes an excellent working knowledge of the classic to be able to so hilariously remove from it. Morris re-inserts the original Hoffman tale which is all but missing from the versions most ballet companies are presently dancing. This is a cross-dressing extravaganza that cuts both ways and drag roles include Fritz, Mrs. Stahlbaum (the gorgeous and glamorous John Heginbotham), the Housekeeper, The Rat King, Snow, the Arabian Princess, and the Flowers.

Many of the roles in this year’s version of The Hard Nut are in their second or third generation of dancers, but several key roles are still being danced by the creators, most notably Drosselmeyer (Rob Besserer) and the Housekeeper (Kraig Patterson). They’re still great, though the feet are older. Rob Besserer was in clunkier, more comfortable black shoes and Kraig Patterson was not on pointe for nearly as much of his copious stage time. But what may be lacking in footwear is made up in comic nuance. These guys are pros. Mark Morris was his irreverent old self, reprising his roles as a plastered party guest and the Arabian Princess in head-to-toe chiffon and a bodystocking. June Omura also deserves accolades for another year as Fritz in a frightful wig and Converse sneakers.

Some of the new dancers in old roles were new to me only. John Heginbotham is a more beautiful Mrs. Stahlbaum than his predecessor, who was a little beefier. The illusion is a little more successful. His acting was impeccable the sidelong looks and dramatic shoulder shrugs were a riotous mix of Sunset Boulevard meets Pillow Talk. His glissades weren’t bad either. Lauren Grant made an adorable Marie, though a bit more controlled than her predecessor. I missed the abandon the second act solo could have. Julie Worden again proves that she is incredibly versatile. After admiring her work in the two MMDG fall repertory programs, I am now equally impressed with her comic timing as Marie’s libidinous older sister.

Morris’ Snow Scene may be one of the most effective uses of this music ever choreographed. It is hilarious and well crafted. This is some of the most moving music in the score and often the dancing in the scene wants movement. The male and female flakes are dressed identically in puffy tutus and soft serve ice cream hats and they throw snow from their fists. It makes perfect sense that the snow should some from the flakes and not some mechanical contraption overhead. How do they regulate how much to throw? Every note of the score is accounted for. The flakes hover, they land, they skip along the ground. The climax of the scene with the cymbals crashing and dancers leaping and throwing snow everywhere is truly blizzard-like. This is the way it should be.

The second act starts with the telling of the original tale of the Nutcracker in all it’s gory details including a disfigured Princess and an inattentive nurse. Drosselmeyer travels the world in search of a magical hard nut and in the process meets a couple of Spanish dancers (the female with horns), a trio of Chinese dancers (straight out of Turandot), a repellently attractive Arabian Princess (with extraordinarily expressive hands), a sextet of fantastically enthusiastic Russians (looking very folksy), and a quartet of narcissistic fashionistas from France (all of them, men and women, in pointe shoes). Marie saves the day by declaring her love to Drosselmeyer’s nephew who is in danger of being transformed into an ugly Nutcracker. Mrs. Stahlbaum very gracefully leads a co-ed cast of flowers in a lovely little waltz that uses every choreographic cliché in the book like waves and fan kicks excessive amounts of canon. The cheese value was high. The audience was in hysterics.

At intermission the audience member behind me said to his companion that this version was much better than a regular Nutcracker. He was right. Just ask Mr. Willie Brown, who crashed the Party Scene with another politician friend. Dr. Stahlbaum frantically showed them out.

Author:  LMCtech [ Mon Dec 12, 2005 6:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Mark Morris' seasonal sarcasm is back in Berkeley

A review from the SF Chronicle.

Morris presents a 'Nutcracker' unlike any other: exultant, nightmarish, heartbreakingly beautiful

Steven Winn, Chronicle Arts and Culture Critic

Monday, December 12, 2005

Just when things are about to whirl completely out of control in the first-act party scene of "The Hard Nut," Mark Morris' giddily inspired and glowingly lyrical adaptation of "Nutcracker," there's a creepy little shock downstage.

When no one else is watching, the mysterious Drosselmeier (Craig Biesecker) gets Fritz (June Omura), the misbehaving child of the Stahlbaum house, off to himself. Lifting his black eye patch, Drosselmeier makes the boy peer at his hidden ruined flesh. Fritz skitters away, in terror and thrilled revulsion, and the party surges on, a 1970s suburban freak show of drinking, big lapels, the Frug, the Hokey Pokey, the Hesitation and casting that's so gender-bent it almost seems straight.

But that peek behind the eye patch is more than just another bit of naughty Christmas horseplay. It goes to the core of what Morris was after when he first took on "Nutcracker" in 1991, with a flame that's still crackling away 14 years later. With his singular brand of parody and penetrating insight, Morris burns away the tired old conventions of this numbingly reiterated work and invites us all to peer into its complicated, multi-chambered heart. This mad, modern reinvention of the E.T.A. Hoffmann/Tchaikovksy chestnut opened Friday at Zellerbach Hall.


I HATE "Nutcracker". I LOVE this. It's hilarious. It appeals to my cynical and sarcastic side. The maid is my favorite...

Author:  LMCtech [ Fri Dec 16, 2005 1:36 pm ]
Post subject: 

From one of the SF Chronicle's columnists.

Berkeley: 'Hard Nut' cracks resistance to holiday ballet tale

C.W. Nevius

Friday, December 16, 2005

I am not a huge fan of the ballet "The Nutcracker." So sue me.

To me, it drags. Again, my fault, I am sure. But everyone glides left, everyone glides right, all in perfect harmony, and nothing really happens, does it? There is the sword fight with the Rat King, and at least one loud pop from a soldier's gun, but otherwise it is snooze-city to my uncultured view.

Recently, however, our family found the antidote. You still get the lovely light and motion, but there's also action, laughs, and scads of holiday tradition. Plus, you get full marks for going to the ballet.

It is Mark Morris' "The Hard Nut," at Berkeley's Cal Performances.


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