The Owen/Cox Dance Group’s zany and thoroughly entertaining “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” contains inspired arrangements of Tchaikovsky’s traditional "Nutcracker" score by Brad Cox and others, and also new music for scenes from the original E.T.A. Hoffmann story that do not appear in the Tchaikovsky ballet. This review focuses on the production's music.
First, let’s be clear: this is not your grandfather’s Nutcracker. The 18-piece People’s Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City, led by Brad Cox, offers a wild and often hilarious “take” on the traditional Tchaikovsky tunes, and the instrumentation is, well, a little different from what the Russian master probably had in mind.