Here's our theory: The Nutcracker remains a holiday mainstay after almost 120 years in existence because it's so malleable. Mikhail Baryshnikov choreographed a version in the 1990s. Macaulay Culkin was in a theater adaptation. Tim Curry played the voice of the Mouse King in the animated film Barbie in the Nutcracker. (Yes, that Barbie.) It stands to reason, then, that it can be used to re-tell the story of Hanukkah. That's just what choreographer Katy Alniz Rous has done in The Jewish Nutcracker – A Maccabee Celebration. Maccabee (which is Hebrew for “hammer”) takes place at a family Hanukkah celebration in modern-day San Francisco. Rather than the characters of Clara, the Nutcracker, and the Mouse King, it's Miriam, Judas Maccabee, and a Greek army leader. Miriam is a bored teenager uninterested in the gathering, Alniz Rous says, until an interesting guy her age comes to the party in the form of Judas. The ensuing midnight battle between Judas and the soldiers retells the story of the Maccabean Revolt and the rebuilding of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. In the production, Alniz Rous includes Spanish, Arabian, Chinese, and Russian dance, which follow the original Nutcracker sequence of dancing sweets – Spanish chocolate, Arabian coffee, Chinese tea, and Russian candy. “There's no nutcracker,” Alniz Rous says. “The only part that's The Nutcracker is a score.” There's also no Barbie – and that's probably a good thing.
Dec. 15-18, 2011