The Nutcracker on Ice at Winter WonderlandCultureTheatre
It’s that time of year again: the days grow darker, John Lewis has released its advert and Hyde Park has become Winter Wonderland. The season would be incomplete without The Nutcracker. For anyone who appreciates spectacular skating, strong choreography and seamless scene changes, this latest production of The Nutcracker on Ice is the one to see.
The realms of reality and the fairytale become blurred, as a magician gifts a girl with a nutcracker doll. Just as Marie is enchanted by her Christmas present, so too are the spectators, who fall mesmerised under the unfolding visual spectacle. Both doll and imaginations come alive and viewers find themselves transported to mice-strewn battlefields and a kingdom of sweets. This is a beloved tale, retold with a pirouette by Tony Mercer and his Imperial Ice Stars.
The Winter Palace Theatre has a capacity of 950 and yet the venue feels intimate, like a family gathering. Perhaps this is due to the new “thrust stage”, which enables the audience to watch from three distinct angles. The skaters glide amid the falling snowflakes and every aspect of the dance is made more graceful through its accompaniment with Tchaikovsky’s seminal score.
The performance is captivating from the offset, with a sky of 7,000 LEDs twinkling over the stage and an appreciative audience. Before the ballet begins, the crowd have already been transported to Christmas Eve, St Petersburg, through a simple yet effective backdrop: an animated screen transforms the settings, ensuring continuity during scene changes.
Despite one early slip up, which caused those watching to grimace, the young girl recovered quickly and all of the skaters grew in confidence from that point. Although the mice were slightly out of time in the battle scene, the synchronicity of the snowflakes couldn’t be faulted and their beatific costumes lit up the theatre. Last night, the stand-out performers were Marie and the Nutcracker Prince, who have the difficult task of being on stage for almost the entire performance, but they pulled it off remarkably with their sheer talent and grace.
Praise must go to the Tony Mercer for the decision to include circus acts: the fire dancers and the woman on the aerial hoop added a highly entertaining and thrilling edge to the traditional Nutcracker story.
The show is a must-see for families and anyone feeling Christmassy. However, sticklers for a traditional production might find this abridged version objectionable.
The Nutcracker on Ice is at the Winter Palace Theatre from 18th November until 2nd January 2017, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for The Nutcracker on Ice here: