Nutcracker Rouge





We sipped on our champagne flutes as glitter fell from the sky. Above us was a hoop dancer singing opera while hanging upside down – a feat I’ve never seen anywhere before. A mere 15 feet in front of me stood the beautiful and talented Allison Ulrich (ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance”) in a Cinderella style gown performing ballet gracefully on the stage. It was a thrillingly unique fusion of nightlife and theatre.

Allison Ulrich as Marie-Claire, Lukasz Zieba as the Prince,  Photo credit: Mark Shelby Perry
Allison Ulrich as Marie-Claire, Lukasz Zieba as the Prince, Photo credit: Mark Shelby Perry

The NUTCRACKER ROUGE is a visual feast. It is a sparkling reimagining of the beloved Nutcracker tale told with erotic, sensual and opulent flair. From award-winning director/choreographer Austin McCormick comes a baroque-burlesque confection of theatre, dance, music, circus, opera, high fashion and sumptuous design. Company XIV’s work is a unique mash up of classical texts, Baroque choreography, eclectic music, pop culture, opera, burlesque, ballet, gender bending, high fashion, theatrical staging and sumptuous design that has wowed both audiences and critics.

Photo credit: Mark Shelby Perry, cast: Lea Helle
Photo credit: Mark Shelby Perry, cast: Lea Helle

The show takes place at the Irondale Theatre in an intimate cabaret setting. As we entered the space, I was thrilled to find I had walked into the costume room, which was accessible for audience members to view. Hundreds of gorgeous handmade costumes hung ready to be worn by the talented Company XIV cast. The materials were stunning; silk, lace, glitter and gemstones were everywhere the eye could see. Moving through the costume section, I saw the cocktail lounge ahead. We headed to the bar ready to immerse ourselves in a night of gorgeous and decadent winter entertainment. 

Cast members of Nutcracker Rouge, Photo credit: Mark Shelby Perry
Cast members of Nutcracker Rouge, Photo credit: Mark Shelby Perry

Company XIV’s critically acclaimed NUTCRACKER ROUGE has been called “dazzling and genius” by The New York Times and “the perfect hot date” by Time Out New York.The show is a New York Times Critics’ Pick, Time Out New York Critics’ Pick, New York Magazine Critics’ Pick, New York Post Hot Pick and a Drama Desk Awards nominee for Unique Theatrical Experience. The show is cutting-edge, yet extravagantly classical. 

Marcy Richardson (center), Photo credit: Mark Shelby Perry
Marcy Richardson (center), Photo credit: Mark Shelby Perry

Taking his cue from theatre/dance/opera under the reign of Louis XIV, director/choreographer Austin McCormick creates a compelling 360-degree experience for audiences. The players of Company XIV are theatrical libertines, who tempt, delight and fully immerse their audiences in the experience of their performances, inviting them to be seduced and liberated.

Todd Hanebrink, Jourdan Epstein,  Photo credit: Mark Shelby Perry
Todd Hanebrink, Jourdan Epstein, Photo credit: Mark Shelby Perry

Austin McCormick holds a BFA from the Juilliard School and is a graduate of The Conservatory of Baroque Dance. He is an alumnus of the Harid Conservatory and North Carolina School of the Arts. In 2006 he founded Company XIV, hailed by Black Book Magazine as an ‘Icon Of The Future.’ The company works in the mediums of live dance/theater and film. The work is contemporary, yet Baroque inspired. In 2017 McCormick will choreograph Mary Zimmerman’s production of Antonín Dvořák’s Rusalka at The Metropolitan Opera. He was nominated for a 2015 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography for Rococo Rouge. His work has been performed at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater, Alice Tully Hall, Clark Studio Theater, Symphony Space, The Flea, Alvin Ailey Theater, Walter Reade Theater, Mark Morris Dance Center; internationally at the Biblioteca Palafoxiana in Mexico, the Roxy Art House in Edinburgh, Usine C in Montreal; and seen at the TED Conference, on Logo’s New Now Next Awards and TLC’s “The Cake Boss.” The New York Times calls McCormick’s work “inventive and brainy, a high-entertainment mix of music-hall, cabaret, theater and dance.”

The cast includes Allison Ulrich (ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” Cirque du Soleil’s Viva Elvis), Shelly Watson (The Metropolitan Opera, Company XIV’s Rococo Rouge), Hilly Bodin (XIV’s Snow White & Cinderella), Uys du Buisson (Peter Pan 360 National Tour, STREB Extreme Action Company), Jourdan Epstein (Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance”), Todd Hanebrink (Broadway’s Wicked, XIV’s Paris), Lea Helle (XIV’s Paris & Cinderella), Nicholas Katen (XIV’s Paris & Cinderella), Storm Marrero (XIV’s Paris), Mark Osmundsen (XIV’s Paris & Cinderella), Marcy Richardson (XIV’s Paris & Cinderella), Scott Schneider, Cara Seymour (MOMIX, Spiegelworld’s Vegas Nocturne, XIV’s Paris), Nicholas Sipes (Broadway’s Billy Elliot: The Musical, On Your Toes with City Center’s Encores!), Nicole von Arx (Rigoletto with The Metropolitan Opera, XIV’s Paris) and Lukasz Zieba (“So You Think You Can Dance,” The Metropolitan Opera).

Marcy Richardson,  Photo credit: Mark Shelby Perry
Marcy Richardson, Photo credit: Mark Shelby Perry

The creative team includes Jeff Takacs (Text), Zane Pihlstrom (Set & Costume Design), Jeanette Yew (Lighting Design) and Mark Van Hare (Sound Design). The production team includes Nataliya Vasilyeva (Production Stage Manager), Marisol Cabrera (Company Manager), Audrey Nauman (Wardrobe Supervisor), John Starmer (Technical Director) and Nicole Gross (Assistant Stage Manager). Company XIV is sponsored by MAC Cosmetics.

The NUTCRACKER ROUGE runs until January 7, 2017. The show plays Mondays – Saturdays at 8pm. The running time is 2 hours and 15 minutes with one intermission. Tickets from $35 to $200. To book seats, couches and VIP tickets visit or call 1 (866) 811-4111.


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