#crackiswhack: Chris March’s Butt-Cracker Suite

I love to see as many versions of The Nutcracker as possible; it’s a strange habit/love affair.  As a dancer, Nutcracker becomes the thing you love to hate.  Hearing the Mirliton music makes me shudder.  I do still actually love the Grand Pas de Deux and Waltz of the Snowflakes.  Everything else, not so much.

That said, The Nutcracker is a delightful holiday tradition for many and I encourage families to take their kids.  After performing just about every part, I just like to talk s*** about it.  The first Nutcracker I appeared in featured a tapping toy soldier line – which some considered tacky, but I thought added some pizzazz to the whole thing and was really fun to do.

I’m dying to see Mark Morris’ The Hard Nut live (which won’t happen this year), will be seeing the Trocks next week, but I still needed a Nutcracker fix.  TimeOut had a 50% off deal for Chris March’s (of Project Runway) Butt-Cracker Suite: A Trailer Park Ballet at HERE.

While some might find such insinuations offensive (yes, Honey Boo Boo  gets a shout-out), March shares his ironic sarcasm across several cultures and religions.  It’s universally offensive, which doesn’t make it “okay” but he’s very equal in his discrimination.

For some reason, I wasn’t expecting a dance performance.  I’m not sure why, just an assumption.  March plays Clara in a sulky manner with total commitment.  March takes us through his selections of the musical score with some additions.  The sound score impressively transitions in and out of Christmas Carols, old TV shows, commercials, and Tchaikovsky (major Kudos to whomever engineered that).  March features the variations of Hot Chocolate, Coffee, & Tea in his technicolor dream – Tea wins out as tapping bowling pins.  He inserts clips from 1950’s  commercials and Charlie Brown.  Mother Ginger’s Polichinelles become the makings of a Wonder Bread sandwich; a corps of six female dancers rapidly transition from beer cans in the overture to 7-Eleven ballerinas passing out candy (Land of the Sweets) to Spam Princesses to clothesline “Flowers” jumping rope.  I can’t remember which traditional Nutcracker sections translated to the Miracle Whip or Ugly Sweater divertissements.

The quality of dance surprised me; Clara’s pas de deux with her Nutcracker Prince brought out the fouettes and some overly dramatic but graceful port de bras.  These dancers went at it 1,000% covering the rapid choreography with unique, comical expressions and meticulous timing.

The set highlights March’s eye for design.  It is full, complete, and rich from the Christmas light covered trailer with Nativity scene topping it to the refrigerator and toilet lawn “ornaments” to the dramatically expanding Pine Tree/Christmas Tree Air Freshener. March uses an array of commercial reference points so that logos and brands galore are present, but they don’t overwhelm.  SomeoLa Commodene in the audience connected with something from back in time at some point.

Check it out; if it isn’t your cup of tea, perhaps the space will be – it’s small and intimate with in-house Herb N Peach Eatery which allows you to take your refreshments in the theater.  It sets the tone for irreverence as evidenced by the toilet signage (see photo).

When you’re in the neighborhood, you may wish to visit Ruben’s Empanadas–a plate of yummy beans & rice with one empanada & a beer for only $11 which is a steal in this area.  We stumbled upon Ruben’s after attempting Happy Hour at Pera SoHo’s which was over-crowded with a condescending, un-accommodating hostess.  I hate to give negative shout-outs, but it really was obnoxious.

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