Theatre Review: Nutcracker

November 20-23; touring until May 25

Nutcracker

Liverpool Empire

3*

Cadbury’s have a lot to answer for; once that familiar tune pipes up, as my companion remarked, so tempted to start singing along.

And despite the exquisite costume and performance; Daria Klimentova, is also a delightfully spirited Clara. The same can be said of her partners, although athletic is perhaps a better word: Junor Souza as the Nutcracker and Vadim Muntagirov as Drosselmeyer’s nephew.

Now why on earth anybody should think a nutcracker makes an excellent Christmas surprise for young Clara (Micaela Infante) is a puzzle but even her cheeky brother Freddie (Matthew Cotton) longs for it. And all the children in the Party scene should take a bow for their exuberance and expertise.

Drosselmeyer (Fabian Reimar), a stylish mc, has more up his sleeve although in this version the battle with the Mouse King erupts first so the final act is the one where the toys spring to life. Well, some of them; unfortunately, in a series of first class showcases, the somewhat ungainly Arabian interlude jars by comparison, especially given the marvelously sensual music.

Similarly, although costumes and staging are largely breathtaking, the scenery is not always obedient and in some changes, seems to lag behind the music. But the mansion, inside and out, is beautifully realized with an amazing sense of scale, and exterior scenes are indeed a Winter wonderland. Costumes too are magical, with tutus as dainty as Japanese parasols, and there are some inspired touches: the mice fighting back using a gigantic mousetrap to catapult missiles; the moon like balloon in which Clara and Drosselmeyer and nephew flee.

Nutcracker may be based on that hoary cliché: it was all a dream, the Mouse King (James Street, his gestures and attitude reminiscent of Robert Carlisles‘s Rumperstiltskin) and his minions being rather nightmarish, particularly with the skull–like headpieces, but nonetheless it remains a dream of a ballet, and an enchanting evening.

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