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REVIEW: Buttcracker is Back at Bruka Theater

By Dana Nollsch

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Take one part “Nutcracker” and one part “Wizard of Oz”, mix them together with a big wooden spoon and what do you get?

You get “The Buttcracker”, a delightfully irreverent and funny holiday treat.

This is the seventh time Bruka Theater has presented Buttcracker, now a Reno holiday staple. For me, the holiday season in not complete without it.

The premise is simple: Take the holiday classic “Nutcracker” and mix in another tale. This year the delightfully demented minds at Bruka chose “The Wizard of Oz”.

Clara meets Dorothy sounds fun, right?

If you have seen more than one Buttcracker, then you know each year is unique and delightfully irreverent in its own way. We have seen zombies, pirates, “Alice in Wonderland” and more. I have seen this be quite the creative opportunity for all involved.

With a very large cast, “The Buttcracker” has many small stories on stage, especially during the first act. With the families gathering for a holiday party we see the interactions and drama of each family in the background as the story of Clara unfolds in the foreground. You may wish to see the show more than once to see all the details.

The show is anchored by Mary Bennett, who plays Clara, a delightful little girl overwhelmed at the party and ready to explore a new land of imagination and magic. She travels to Oz much as Alice and Toto did only to find witches, tin men, lions, scarecrows and flying monkeys among the other wonders waiting her and her dog there.

John Wade plays Fritz, Clara’s nemesis. If you have seen John act before then you know he brings that something special to his roles. As Fritz, he does not fail us. John’s expressiveness and dance artistry are worth the price of admission alone.

Michael Polanski provides the narration with his special touch of comedic flare. The narrator in this story becomes a character of the show and the glue that binds the two stories together.

The rest of the cast are creative and talented with most of them taking on more than one character. Over the years we have seen so much talent grace the stage at Bruka, and “The Buttcracker” brings out some of the best. I have to give a shout out to Lou who always brings his brand of comedy to the stage, and Paris who graced us with her beauty as Glinda the Good Witch.

Combine all of this with a creative set and stellar lighting, and you get a very entertaining and funny show. As we have come to expect from any production at Bruka, the technical details are seamless and solid. This makes for a wonderful theater experience.

This is one holiday treat that must not be missed. You will laugh and you will be entertained.

The show runs through Dec. 23 with evening shows and matinees. Details: http://www.bruka.org/

Buttcracker at Bruke Theater
Buttcracker at Bruka Theater. Image: Dana Nollsch.

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