Mark Morris Dance Group waltzes into the Detroit Opera House this weekend for the local premiere of The Hard Nut—a playful and irreverent retelling of The Nutcracker set in the swingin’ 70s where raucous parties, and dancing Barbie Dolls and G.I Joes take centerstage amidst a flurry of gender-bending snowflakes.

48-Piece Orchestra

The Hard Nut is set to Tchaikovsky’s enchanting score performed by a live 48-piece orchestra and mines E.T.A Hoffmann’s original story to recreate a world inspired by American comic Charles Burns that is both funny and inventive. It recovers a dark subplot from the original E.T.A. Hoffmann tale about how a young prince became the Nutcracker, but it retains and celebrates all that is familiar about the beloved ballet: love of family, the warmth of the holidays, one little girl’s fantastical dream on Christmas Eve.

A story in told at bedtime that begins like this….Once upon a time a King and a Queen had a beautiful baby girl named Pirlipat. The Queen’s old enemy the Rat Queen threatened to ruin little Pirlipat. The nurse and the cat were left to guard the baby at night. While the nurse and cat slept, the Rat Queen destroyed Princess Pirlipat’s face. The Royal Family was horrified by the sight of their formerly beautiful daughter. The Rat Queen explained that the Princess would regain her beauty only after a young man cracked the hard nut, Krakatuk, with his teeth and stepped backwards seven times. The King commanded Drosselmeier to find the hard nut or face decapitation. Drosselmeier set off in search of the hard nut. He traveled the world for fifteen years before finding it back at home.

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