Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Review of The Nutcracker at The House Theatre of Chicago

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Nutcracker. The book was by Jake Minton and Phillip Klapperich. The music was by Kevin O'Donnell and the lyrics were by Jake Minton. And it was based on the story by E.T.A. Hoffmann. It was directed and choreographed by Tommy Rapley. It was about a girl named Clara (Jaclyn Hennell) whose brother Fritz (Shaun Baer) had died in the war and her parents (Paul Fagen and Ericka Ratcliff) had still not recovered for Christmas. And her Uncle Drosselmeyer (Karl Potthoff) made her a nutcracker that looked like her brother. And Uncle Drosselmeyer had magic and brought all her toys to life: Hugo (Andrew Lund) who was a robot, Monkey (Michael E. Smith) who was a monkey, and Phoebe (Krystal Worrell) who was a pull-string doll. This show was about Christmas, brother and sister relationships, and magic. This is my fifth time seeing the show and I always have fun! You can read my earlier reviews from 2010 and from 2013, so this is mostly going to be about new things I noticed.

The song "Let's Make Cookies" is always my favorite song besides the Rats' song. This is the time when Clara seemed most like a kid to me. She seemed very happy to be making cookies and she seemed the way a kid actually is when she is proud, not like in the movies where they stick their chin in the air. She just walked around like, "Hey! Everyone! Look at me! I'm awesome!" And I liked that. I also liked all the new actors playing toys. I loved Phoebe. She was very funny. One of my favorite parts was when she was saying, "I'm afraid of the dark" and everybody was like, "Seriously, Phoebe. You have to do that now when our lives are in danger?" And then she kept on saying it and saying it, and then they finally get it, but it has been 10 times of her saying it. My favorite Hugo moment is when he is left alone in the room to tell everyone terrible jokes!

I thought that Fritz was great this year. He seemed like an actual big brother because he was very nice to his sister but he also had some problems with her. And he felt like he had to protect his family by going to the war. I really liked his song and I thought that he had a great voice. I thought it was very bittersweet and heartwarming, and I almost cried this year.

I really liked the parents/rats. They were funny as the rats and they did a great job at being the parents. They seemed like, as parents, they loved Clara and wanted the best for her, but they just didn't feel very Christmassy because they had lost someone who was a big part of their Christmas. I loved when the rat who was also the mother met the monkey and they basically started doing tango moves and were like, "I love you!" I really liked when the father rat kept saying how scary he was and he would keep saying, "But it was very scary! Don't forget it was scary! It was scary--remember that!" That was very ridiculous and funny.

People who would like this show are people who like sugarplum cookies, bittersweet songs, and monkey and rat tango dances. I had so much fun at this show. I have had fun all of these years, and every single year has been a blast for me!

Photos: Michael Brosilow

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