cracking my nuts
2004-12-20 @ 10:10 a.m.
It takes a lot of creative attention to help put on a burlesque version of The Nutcracker Suite.
The score we used was Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite (selections 1-9 if you want to check it out and you should). Le Cirque Rouge's Nutcracker opens at a jazzy Christmas party circa 1940. Two good-looking hipsters enter, and "the prince" gives "Claire" a present of a nutcracker with a necklace around its neck as a come on. The antagonist Rat Queen looks on with jealousy and starts a cat fight over the attention of the prince. The Rat Queen clocks Claire in the jaw and Claire is out cold and the story enters a dream state. Instead of the fight between the Toy Soldiers and the Mice, Claire
s dream begins with a "knockdown, DRAG-out" fight where beautiful women in men's suits defend her from the Rat Queen's posse of ugly manly men in drag. Once the battle ends, the Prince brings her to a beautiful banquet table where burlesque dancers entertain them. Eventually Claire comes to still at the party and blinking her eyes in disbelief ends the story announcing "I hate Christmas!".
I somehow was "in charge" of costumes. All that meant was that I created a few costumes to implement a large existing stockpile of vintage clothing as needed.
Here's a sample of my creative process worked:
1.)I'm told that the Rat King in the ballet will be a Rat Queen in the burlesque version.resulting thought) The Rat King in the ballet has 7 heads!...What if we make the antagonist in our show a Gorgon like Medusa, and we can made a snake wig so she'll have lots of little snake heads?
I let that simmer for several days on low because I have been in love with the idea of a sexy Gorgon Medusa costume since Halloween...but finally I reconcile that it has to be a RAT QUEEEN, not Medusa. I file away the sexy Gorgon idea for later use.
So. We need the Rat Queen to have that vibe of Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, the Queen from Snow White- she has to be completely gorgeous and sexy in her evil...we need a mink stole with mutiple live heads that can come to life
..like in GHOSTBUSTERS! One head will be hers, and then she'll have rat-like mink heads..and that's really forties too...
but how can they be animated? Maybe with marionette sticks...
After talking to crazy prop and set guy and discarding every idea for the prop that he had (because they were too Forrest Ackerman fabulous, and just wouldn't have been slightly surreal, yet glamourous and sexy) I only pursued the mention of the dollar store, and the next day found bizarre black panther puppets that looked more rodent than feline, and made a gorgeous, yet ridiculous- yet gorgeous- four-headed black rat stole with two fully functional hand puppets that the character could animate to make them "come alive!" Fierce? No- but fantastic- yes.
Making that one vision come to life was more validating than anything else in recent memory.
There's been chaos and confusion everywhere else in my life as a result. I haven't been focusing on my actual job at all. But it was the closest thing to creative satisfaction that I've felt in a very long time.
So I am tired, but fufilled, and sort of happy. I "performed" as an extra in the very funny "drag-out" fight bit, and the Mina made her stage debut throwing glitter snow at the end of "Dance of the Floreadores" and wasn't scared of being in front of an entire nightclub of people at all. (We did this on the First Avenue Mainstage. Think back to watching Purple Rain- it was that stage, and the venue was pretty well attended)
I also got applause, and somehow got complete credit for how everything looked. Which is crazy, but I know when to smile, bow, and receive applause.
Eep was there too, and I will never make the mistake of thinking that having her with me will be easier than getting a babysitter, or her father to babysit. First Ave is not a smoky club, and since it wasn't a live band I wasn't worried about it being too loud.
So anyway..that's what I've been doing. It's the Motherfucking Nutcracker!