Celebrants: Mark Foehringer’s Nutcracker December 16 matinee

28 Dec

Seeing Mark Foehringer’s 50-minute Nutcracker in its new setting, Fort Mason’s Southside Theater, is a reminder of many things besides  the holiday season with its usual Nutcrackers. Prime item in this checklist is “how the performing arts meet fiscal realities.”

Ever since Mark Foehringer settled in San Francisco, his own sensibility, his own voice, has been loud and clear, whatever its financial backing, whether in Mountain View, at what now is Lam Research Theater at Yerba Buena, The Zeum Theater or the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s International Piano Festival. With a creator’s own voice, the varying degree of what is authentically human and possibly aesthetic is open for assessment.  For aesthetic read what is considered art and beauty.

On Fort Mason’s Webside, Southside is listed as having 180 seats, situated in Building C’s Third Floor.  Placing tall scenery in the stage space with nearly a dozen musicians tucked in off stage is one major accomplishment.  When Drosselmeyer ships the first offending mouse off to Siberia in the human-sized wooden crate, the shoving must occur in three feet where, at the Zeum, there was perhaps five or six feet.  When the tree starts its ascent, it can rise at Southside perhaps half the height managed at Zeum.

What does happen is that Drosselmeyer can swish his cape with compensatory zeal.  I tell you true no one makes up for the spatial  lack better and with more relish than Brian Fisher.  The triple casting of the remaining characters is judicious, the necessary rapidity required testifies to Foehringer’s ingenuity, using the aisles and the space between audience and apron.

The musicians need to be saluted and Michael Morgan’s skill in editing Tchaikovsky’s wonderful score.  With the added bonus of the Sunday Fort Mason Farmer’s Market before the matinee, few days could be more pleasantly spent.


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