I have marveled before at the theatrical prowess of Pooh. Many times, in play situations I have been privy to, I have seen him assume characters, even adopt accents unbelievable for a two-year-old. Therefore, this past Christmas season, I was sorry to miss his actual stage debut in his hometown production of The Nutcracker. But from the pictures and the videos I have seen, there is only one conclusion to be drawn: despite his obvious potential for a future in serious acting, Pooh may be headed instead for a career in comedy.
Cast as a mouse, Pooh welcomed the part with every fiber of his being. He practiced his "mean mouse" demeanor repeatedly, furrowing his eyebrows perfectly, narrowing his big blue eyes to slits, and firmly setting his little jaw. Dress him in a gray sweatsuit, prop a pair of ears atop his head, and stick a cardboard sword in his hand, and he is ready to take on the fiercest army of soldiers. On opening night he waits in place behind the curtain, until the adult in charge gives him the go-ahead to run out on stage where rampant and unmitigated slaughter is the name of the game.
However, when said adult, obviously (and understandably) distracted by the horde of little mice scurrying around backstage, misses a crucial cue, Pooh escapes to find himself on stage early. The soldiers he is to fight are still lined up neatly on the stage's other side. In a rare scene even Tchaikovsky could not have imaged music for, Pooh and the Nutcracker himself survey one another for a long moment, and the action that ensues will not be forgotten anytime soon by any member of this particular audience.
What is a mean mouse with a sword supposed to do in such a situation? The answer is obvious, at least to Pooh. He should attack the Nutcracker. Never mind that a dead Nutcracker would seriously impair the plot of Act II and significantly shorten the ballet. When you have a sword in your hand and the soldiers don't seem to want to play, then any sitting-duck Nutcracker is fair game. Makes sense to me. Apparently, it made sense to Pooh as well.
I can only imagine how funny it must have been: Pooh in slashing mode and a demoralized Nutcracker, no more than eight years old himself, running and stage-whispering, "No! No! Not yet! Not me!" His protests would have served only to encourage Pooh. I know this little boy. He would have been one totally engrossed little mouse. He would have been further fueled by the whooping and laughter and clapping of the audience. I would give anything to have been there and seen such theatrical novelty transpire firsthand.
Undoubtedly, this story will go down in our family annals as "The Time Pooh Tried To Kill the Nutcracker." For now and for purposes of this blog, I will give it the Perry Mason-esque title--"Attack of the Rapacious Rodent." But, Mr. Tchaikovsky, if you're not too busy, could you compose a tune to accompany a new little chase scene for just the Nutcracker and one special little mouse? Knowing Pooh as I do, there just might be an encore next time The Nutcracker comes to town.