MMDG Repertory

The Hard Nut


January 12, 1991

Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie

Mark Morris Dance Group - Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie

Brussels, Belgium

More Performances

Mark Morris
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - Nutcracker, op. 71
Scenic Design
Adrianne Lobel
Costume Design
Martin Pakledinaz
Lighting Design
James F. Ingalls
orchestra and children's chorus
Number of Dancers
90 minutes

Press Quotes

"Fun and amazement dance in the same steps; the choreography lifts the whole audience through a crescendo of changing emotions."

- The New York Times

"Morris' The Hard Nut is both fresh and a little fresh, funny, and disarmingly touching; when a flurry of confetti (twenty pounds per night) falls down during the "Waltz of the Snowflakes," The Hard Nut can utterly melt us with its beauty."

- East Bay Express

“In a ballet set up with broad comic strokes, one might expect parody, but instead, Morris gives us one of the most wholly satisfying blizzards in the history of "Nutcrackers," mining the rich Tchaikovsky score for moments of rushing exhilaration and breathless cascades.”

- San Francisco Chronicle


Based on the book by E.T.A. Hoffman, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King

Production based on the work of Charles Burns.


Act I
Dr. and Mrs. Stahlbaum's annual Christmas Eve Party. Their children Fritz, Marie and Louise wait in the den. Party dances: polka, hokey-pokey, hesitation, stroll, bump, waltz. Friend of the family Drosselmeier brings animated toys that he's made. He gives a Nutcracker to the children. Fritz breaks it. The children fight. Dr. Stahlbaum changes the subject. The guests go home. The family goes to bed. The housekeeper cleans up.

Marie can't sleep and comes downstairs to see if the Nutcracker is resting comfortably. At midnight she is frightened by rats. Everything in the room grows to giant size. G.I. Joes led by the Nutcracker battle rats led by the mutant Rat King. Marie kills the Rat King with her slipper. She falls unconscious. The Nutcracker is transformed into a young man. Marie is tucked in. A worried Drosselmeier makes his way through the blizzard.


Act II
Marie is in a fever. Drosselmeier comes to see if Marie is resting comfortably and tells her one of his stories:


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.

The ugly teenage Pirlipat watched as one young man after another attempted to crack the hard nut. The last one to try was Drosselmeier's own nephew. He succeeded. On his seventh step backward he stepped on the Rat Queen, killing her. Pirlipat became beautiful and rejected the young Drosselmeier as he started to become ugly - like a nutcracker...

At this point Marie interrupts the story and offers her love to young Drosselmeier. Mrs. Stahlbaum acknowledges her daughter's new maturity with a flower dance. Everyone in the world joins Marie and young Drosselmeier in celebrating their love. The two go away together forever.

Louise and Fritz are sent to bed.

The mission of the Mark Morris Dance Group is to develop, promote, and sustain dance, music, and opera productions by Mark Morris and to serve as a cultural resource to engage and enrich the community.

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