Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker 2023 @ The Triple Door

Tchaikovsky with added g-strings 🩰

📸: Courtesy Verlaine & McCann

Originally published for the 2022 Land of the Sweets

📅 Friday, December 1st – Thursday, December 28th
📍 The Triple Door: 216 Union St, Seattle
🎟 $85+

If you were dragged to The Nutcracker once too often as a wee tyke and would rather experience it as more adult entertainment, hie thee hence to the Triple Door for the 17th iteration of Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker. It’s (mostly) the same music, but there’s no Clara, no slightly-creepy godfather Drosselmeyer, and nary a nutcracker in sight. And while there is a Mouse King and his attendant minions, in this production he’s bare-chested and wearing tight red sparkly shorts.

The show’s a series of set pieces, based around a vague storyline (it’s a party for the resident queen). A Rat Pack-ish MC (complete with an ever-revolving series of colorful sports jackets) introduces the acts, and however fetching the costumes they start out wearing are, you can be assured they’ll be shed by the last note. Like all the best strips, there’s a teasing quality to their removal, heightening the anticipation of The Reveal. It’s alluring, not salacious (the exception being the “Countess of Coffee,” who likes cream served with her beverage).

Land of the Sweets vets will recognize the likes of the swinging (as in trapeze) Angel, light-juggler Babette LaFave (who does her act behind a screen but nonetheless strips and comes out front for her finale), and the Sugar Plum Fairy herself, the show’s creator, Lily Verlaine. There’s the corps de ballet, the Snowflakes, in their festive dresses with white trim, the Brothers Baklava in their natty Zoot suits, a small-ish Toreadore hiding a bigger secret, some very impressive en pointe dancing, and a real cheeky ending. This year’s score, played by a nine-piece group dubbed the Nutcracker Nonette, mixes in the Nutcracker pieces you’ll recognize with original music, all given a jazzy “cocktail nation” spin.

The show runs through Thursday, December 28th, and seats in the middle section offer the best viewing. (Servers going to and fro are more distracting in the side seat areas.) PS: The cast likes encouragement. Feel free to whoop it up.

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Gillian Gaar

Gillian G. Gaar

Gillian G. Gaar is a Seattle-based journalist and the author of several books, including She’s A Rebel: The History of Women in Rock & Roll and Entertain Us: The Rise of Nirvana. Twitter: @GillianGaar