Holiday Playlists and an Alternative 'Nutcracker' in Brooklynby
'The Hard Nut': authentic Tchaikovsky, set in the 1970s
BAM's halls are decked for benefit funding affordable tickets
Anna Kendrick was the only guest at Brooklyn Academy of Music Wednesday night who’s recorded what deserves to be a holiday classic: an a capella, hip-hop mashup of "Winter Wonderland" and "Here Comes Santa Claus," with Snoop Dogg, on the "Pitch Perfect 2" soundtrack.
Everyone else at the performance of "The Hard Nut," Mark Morris Dance Group’s comedic, naughty take on the E.T.A. Hoffmann story about a nutcracker and a mouse king, could only claim listening to the fa-la-las and chestnut-roasting on heavy rotation this time of year.
"I kind of like ‘Silent Night’ -- it’s so sappy and zen, but I love it," said Michelle Yard at the party after the performance, wearing a brown dress, just a bit less colorful and sexy than her outfit on stage (costumes are by Martin Pakledinaz).
"Anything by Irving Berlin," said Lauren Grant, who plays an impish Marie, standing with her parents at the party. Other guests included David Puth, Jonathan Rose and Adam Chinn.
Katy Clark, BAM’s new president, at the end of her second day of walking to work (she just moved to Park Slope from Washington Heights), said her 12-year-old daughter’s current holiday favorite is Bob Dylan’s Christmas album. Clark likes listening to Handel’s Messiah and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.
While "The Hard Nut" varies from the story with which we are most familiar -- it opens in a swinging ’70s living room, with the kids in front of a television set -- the live music is true to the composer: "in its real order, with the full orchestra, with Tchaikovsky’s metronome markings, and with its full romance and power," said choreographer Mark Morris, who has displayed special sensitivity to music throughout his career.
The Mark Morris Dance Group Music Ensemble conducted by Colin Fowler performs the score, giving the audience "new ears" on a piece "you’ve become immune to," because you have to "listen to it in the elevator, the mall, Starbucks," said Morris, who has a strategy for Christmas music overload: "If I don’t want to hear it, I turn my head off."
"The Hard Nut" -- featuring Morris as Marie’s dad, Dr. Stahlbaum -- runs at BAM through Dec. 20. The after-party proceeds will be used by BAM and the Mark Morris Dance Group to distribute tickets to families who can’t afford them.