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Had hoped that somebody would post up on this 'cos its a terrific show....


I went up for the premiere a couple of weekends ago and had a great time - it's a version that concentrates on Clara and the children and has no odd physiological detailing or, to my mind, strange story twists. Just great dancing in fluid choreography (by founding artistic director Peter Darrell) and glorious costumes by Lez Brotherston whose brief was to re-imagine the originals by Philip Prowse. It's proved a good move and the ending is the best of any Nutcracker I've seen - but won't spoil for you.



The TodaysLinks team have been collecting a bunch of reviews - here are the links to get a feel for the new production...


Scottish Ballet, The Nutcracker, Edinburgh:

Kelly Apter, Scotsman: http://www.scotsman.com/what-s-on/theatre-comedy-dance/ballet-review-the-nutcracker-edinburgh-festival-theatre-1-3634272

Justine Blundell, Edinburgh Guide: http://www.edinburghguide.com/reviews/edinburghswinterfestivals/thenutcrackerfestivaltheatreedinburghreview-15304

Alice Bain, Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2014/dec/15/nutcracker-scottish-ballet-edinburgh-review

Mark Brown, Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/dance/11294287/The-Nutcracker-Festival-Theatre-Edinburgh-review-near-flawless.html

John McLellan, Edinburgh Evening News: http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/what-s-on/theatre/review-the-nutcracker-1-3638045

DanceTabs: http://dancetabs.com/2014/12/scottish-ballet-the-nutcracker-edinburgh/


Tour details for completeness:



If you have seen the show, or catch it on tour - it comes down to Newcastle note, do add some thoughts.

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Duh, hopeless - I meant psychological not physiological.


So it should have read "...it's a version that concentrates on Clara and the children and has no odd psychological detailing or, to my mind, strange story twists."

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I haven't seen it yet but earlier this week booked for 2 performances in Newcastle. Very few tickets left- so hurry!

Look forward to hearing what you think of it Sheila. The only odd thing about is the transformation scene - it doesn't have one!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I saw this show in Edinburgh on 3 Jan. This is a modified version of the review I wrote immediately after the performance.


I'd been looking forward to seeing Peter Darrell's version of The Nutcracker all year. It's dangerous to set your heart on something that much because high expectations are rarely satisfied. But from the moment Richard Horner raised his hands it was pure delight. Like meeting an old university friend half a century on.

And in a sense that was just what it was. I was introduced to Scottish Ballet by John Steer in 1969. Darrell died in 1987 and I cannot recall when I last saw one of his ballets. Tonight I was reminded of Darrell's brilliance.  It was one of the reasons I fell in love with Scottish Ballet and why the company continues to occupy a special place in my affections.

Darrell's Nutcracker is of the traditional kind. Clara remains a child unlike the Eagling and Grigorovich versions. She does not morph into the sugar plum. There are no gimmicky balloons, flying boats or expanding Christmas trees. Above all there has been no attempt to shift the location of the ballet from Hoffmann's original location to the banks of the Thames or even The Neva.

But there are some interesting features. In the prologue Drosselmeyer transformed an urchin into a handsome youth. Clara's troublesome little brother Fritz was given a toy rat for Christmas with which he tormented the women folk foretelling the battle between rodents and toy soldiers. The mice are children - girls as well as boys. The struggle was short and sweet and the nutcracker despatched the rat king without any help from Clara. One of the divertissements is a hornpipe reminiscent of Pineapple Poll danced to music that I cannot recall hearing before. Best of all were two great monkeys who parked themselves either side of Clara. They amused the crowd with antics that would not be encouraged in the drawing rooms of Morningside or Bearsden.

My seat was in the centre of the first row with a full view of the orchestra pit. I had never been so close to an orchestra before. I could see every movement of every player which was almost as fascinating as the ballet. I watched them in the "la la" vocals snow flake scene to see whether they had a choir as Festival once did. I thought I saw the woodwind players mouth the tune but I think Horner must have used a previous recording.

As advertised Erik Cavallari danced the nutcracker, Bethany Kingsley-Garner the sugar plum, Owen Thorne Drosselmeyer, Amy Pollock Clara and Remi Anderson as King Rat but Eve Mutso was the snow queen. All danced well but in many ways the biggest stars were the children from Scottish Ballet Associates and the Dance School of Scotland who showed considerable stage presence as well as good technique. Amy Pollok was a great Clara. The other big star was the designer Lez Brotherston who created a gorgeous kingdom of the sweets out of Christmas tree baubles and barricades for the mice out of outsize apple cores, boiled sweets and assorted cheeses.

The auditorium, which was packed to the gunwales, exploded with clapping and we stepped into Nicholson Street on a high. I've reviewed six productions of The Nutcracker since I started my blog and have enjoyed them all but this is the one I liked best.
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  • 4 weeks later...

I saw two performances yesterday, in Newcastle, in the last stage of the run. It is a lovely child friendly production, with, as posted above, Clara being performed throughout by a child (Amy Pollock or Robyn McKie, equally convincing).


I especially remember the second act, which Peter Darrell choreographed first and which used to be performed as part of a mixed bill (just as, earlier, London Festival Ballet used to tour mixed bills that included Act 2 of Swan Lake; surely a policy that could be tried again to try to make triple bills more box-office friendly?). In this revised production Lez Brotherston has redesigned the decor for Act 2 but in accordance with the original concept of Christmas baubles; the effect is equally attractive as Philip Prowse's. Throughout the designs and costumes are stunning although the dark blue costumes for the Waltz of the Flowers don't look floral but shimmer beautifully. Most important, the choreography for that act is lovely with no trace of the vulgarity in many productions. A case in point is the Arabian dance, which is lyrical and sinuous, danced by Araminta Wraith at the matinee, who used epaulement seductively, and by Eve Mutso in the evening, always a compelling performer.


The leading dancers are hard worked with the Sugar Plum, the Snow Queen and Nutcracker Prince all performing in the Entertainers pas de trios in Act 1, the major piece of choreography in that act, again more attractive than in most productions. All gave good performances but they were not entirely technically assured and partnering was shaky at times; maybe the small stage and its raking caused problems. The company is planning to do a new production of Swan Lake next year and if the director, Christopher Hampson, and proposed choreographer, David Dawson, are anticipating a classical version, they will need to continue to strengthen the classical technique of the company.


That said, the company is overall on fine form. The dancers are all round performers, in Act 1, everyone had a particular character, they acted in role throughout (including the two aunts: my one reservation about the party scene is the ageist stereotyping. Whilst it amuses the Nutcracker audience it is too exaggerated; now that the Royal has mercifully subdued the grotesque ageist overplaying in the Onegin party scene surely a newly revised production should not be so crude). The company has a diverse rep, in the autumn they did contemporary pieces, in the winter a classical Nutcracker, in the Spring they will be reprising the highly dramatic A Streetcar Named Desire, which won major awards and will be seen at Sadler's Wells as well as Inverness and Edinburgh.

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 (just as, earlier, London Festival Ballet used to tour mixed bills that included Act 2 of Swan Lake; surely a policy that could be tried again to try to make triple bills more box-office friendly?)


ENB tried that a few years ago: even putting Swan Lake Act II in a bill (which I think also included Etudes?) still left the theatre disappointingly empty.  I'd never seen the Mayflower in Southampton that empty for an ENB performance, and they'd even had pretty full houses for a bill containing The Rite of Spring and Drink To Me Only, I think it was.

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  • 1 month later...

The first part was standard as with children but then the magic came and it was pure magic. Fabulous but more enhanced stage scenery I saw as a kid.


As a kid I hated ballet and this was the one I hated. At the last version I saw I near had a tear at end. Few mistakes but pure magic.

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