Naughty ‘Nutcracker’: Company XIV gives sexy spin to holiday classic

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Gimme some sugar, sugarplum!

A sexy, adults-only retelling of holiday classic “The Nutcracker” has shimmied onto the stage of Irondale Center in Fort Greene, running through Jan. 7. “Nutcracker Rouge,” performed by theater group Company XIV, uses its sensual spin to bring new audiences to Tchaikovsky’s music and classic ballet moves — especially adults who may have been turned off by excessively cutesy productions. The erotic elements are the spoonful of sugarplum that helps the ballet go down, said the show’s creator.

“It’s a lot more sexy and elegant. And what I’ve found in incorporating the burlesque element and striptease is it allows the audience to connect with what we’re doing in a different way,” said Austin McCormick, artistic director and choreographer of Company XIV. “It allows us to present our more classical elements in a more digestible way — we present it with a layer of accessibility through burlesque and the art of entertainm­ent.”

The baroque burlesque show fuses theater, dance, and circus acts to create an erotic winter wonderland. In McCormick’s adaptation, Marie-Claire is a grown woman who stumbles not into the World of Sweets, but into a decadent world of pleasure where she experiences a sexual awakening.

“Nutcracker Rouge,” first performed in 2010, has become an annual tradition for the Carroll Gardens theater company, but the show has evolved each year. McCormick has tailored to the show to the company current cast, and the score has expanded — in addition to Tchaikovsky’s classic suite, it includes opera, jazz, and pop ballads by Britney Spears and Lana Del Rey. So the risqué revue will still have surprises for returning audience members, said McCormick.

“The show really is always different, I really tailor the show to the cast,” said McCormick. “There are some classic numbers we always comes back to, but the circus acts are different, so is the music — so it’s always a bit of a surprise for the audience.”

This year’s production at Irondale Center is even more intimate than usual, with baroque couches and cabaret tables that break down the barrier between the audience and the performers.

“It has more of a French night club vibe,” said McCormick. “I think because of the seating it’s much more intimate. The performers walk through the audience, you can see the cast dressing, so it’s a bit more immersive and exciting than years past.”

“Nutcracker Rouge” at the Irondale Center [85 S. Oxford St. between Lafayette and Greene avenues in Fort Greene, (718) 488–9233,]. Through Jan. 7, Mon–Sat at 8 pm. $35$200.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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