Exposing 'The Nutcracker' in Seattle ... literally!

Dec 5, 2011

This is the time of year for many dance and theater groups to make money with big productions of “The Nutcracker” … and in Seattle you can see the show with a twist: a “sexy, but not too sexy” burlesque.

The Seattle troupe performing "The Burlesque Nutcracker" isn’t alone when it comes to finding a unique way to tell the old holiday favorite.

In a crowded holiday landscape strained by the financial downturn, ballet companies are under intense pressure to lure bigger crowds, extend their runs and justify higher ticket prices, reports the Wall Street Journal.

In some cases, the Journal reports, companies are trying more ambitious marketing campaigns and pulling in corporate sponsors to offset budget shortfalls. Other companies are launching bigger, flashier and sometimes more provocative twists on the classic in an attempt to create buzz.

And that’s the case in Seattle with the Land of the Sweets company. This is the company’s sixth year of “ecdysistic splendor, spectacle and pageantry.”

Co-creators Lily Verlaine and Jasper McCann spice up the traditional “Nutcracker” with 21 shows this year, starting Wednesday, Dec. 14 running through Saturday, Dec. 24 playing two shows a night at The Triple Door.

‘Something new and fun’

The traditional “Nutcracker” ballet has been known to put some to sleep, but “Land of the Sweets” does just the opposite.

“We wanted to turn a ballet in to something new and fun … a burlesque show,” says Jasper McCann. “It’s sexy, but not too sexy!”

The show goes beyond just a striptease; the song and dance is accompanied by acrobatic feats, glamour and racy jokes from host McCann. All acts feature an all-star cast from Seattle’s burlesque A-list.

 Verlaine told the Seattlepi.com, "It's the closest thing to a family burlesque show out there," even though the venue prefers the audience be 17+ for the early shows and 21+ for the later shows.

"Yes,” she admitted, “there's nudity, but it’s funny and cute!"

(The video linked to here is safe for work … up until near the end. So open at your own risk!)

A show for almost everyone

It may come as a surprise that the risqué performance of the “Nutcracker” hasn’t attracted negative criticism from Christmas purists. The show has done just the opposite. In these trying times for ticket revenue “Land of the Sweets” has continued to prosper and thrive.

“Ticket sales are going good,” said McCann “People have been very welcoming and supportive and the demand for the show has grown.”

Verlaine and McCann came up with the idea for the show while brainstorming over a cup of coffee in the summer of 2006.

“The burlesques scene was getting hot in Seattle and it seemed like the thing to do at the time,” said McCann. “Burlesque was what we knew.”

And now we all know the Nutcracker in a new way.