New play about Tchaikovsky, “Casse Noisette,” explores his music and life

Posted on: November 7, 2018

“For more than a century Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s grand, romantic music has enamored audiences, while his sad and introspective life has captivated scholars,” writes Joseph Dalton in Sunday’s (11/4) Times-Union (Albany, NY). “In his new play ‘Casse Noisette’ (French for ‘Nutcracker’), Michael Whistler tells two tales simultaneously—the events leading up to Tchaikovsky’s death in 1893 and the gradual coming out process of a middle-aged gay man, circa 2005. The world premiere production opens Thursday at Bridge Street Theatre in Catskill…. Whistler, who lives in the Philadelphia area, states that his mission as a playwright is to depict the lives of contemporary gay men with humor, honesty and dignity…. ‘People find what they want to find in the lives of the famous,’ admits Whistler. ‘But the music of Tchaikovsky is gay. There’s the unabashed passion, how dramatic it is, the showmanship, heartache and endurance, and the celebration of the survivor.’ In order to connect Tchaikovsky’s story with contemporary times, Whistler created the character of Joe, a high school science teacher who lives an isolated life in suburban Washington state. For solace and companionship, Joe listens to the music of Tchaikovsky.”

Posted November 7, 2018