Review: The Nutcracker On Ice (London Palladium) ****

27 Oct 13 - So So Gay - Sham Thebus

There is no doubt that December is almost on your doorstep when you get to see a Christmas classic like The Nutcracker. The London Palladium opens its doors for 14 shows only, allowing the Imperial Ice Stars to bring their enchanting new production to UK shores. It also marks the first time nearly 36 years that its stage was transformed into an ice rink. Originally performed as a ballet production, to Tchaikovsky's most famous score, it was interesting to see how this timeless story was transformed and opened to a wider audience by being performed on ice.

Set in early 1900s, The Nutcracker on Ice follows the the tale of Marie (Anastasia Ignatyeva), a young girl who is given a strange wooden nutcracker doll as a Christmas gift by her mysterious godfather Herr Dosselmeyer (Keith Chegwin). Once Marie goes to sleep she enters a magical world where the doll comes to life, and through her love, transforms him back into a Prince. Together with toy soldiers they battle the Mouse King and Queen who tries to capture Marie, and then travel on to the Kingdom of Sweets. There, to celebrate the return of their beloved Prince, the Sugar Plum Fairy (Yulia Ashcheulova) hosts a 'Grand Celebration of Dancing' for them.

Director and Choreographer, Tony Mercer, does an amazing job at providing just the right amount of the leaps, throws, and mesmerising acrobatics coupled with some graceful ice dancing. Not completely as graceful as the ballet, with the clopping and screeching of the ice skates, the speed and agility at which they perform is awe-inspiring and completely compensates for this. Introducing some additional elements like gymnastics, flying, acrobatics, fire and illusions into the show, definitely increases the entertainment value of the production.

The only slight disappointment we had was the Sugar Plum fairy dance with Marie in Act 2. This was the only performance that was ill fitted to the grandeur of Tchaikovsky's score. The choreography fell somewhat short and seemed completely out of place compared to the stunning performances in the 'Grand Celebration of Dancing' and even the rest of the show. Okay, that and Chegwin. Although quite capable in ice skates, he seemed completely out of place also, compared to the high level of talent displayed by the 26-strong cast comprising of Olympic, World, European and National Championship skaters.

One of our highlights was the amazing high flying acrobatics performed by Fiona Kirk and Volodymyr Khodakivskyy in the 'Coffee - Arab Dance'. What made this all the more impressive was that it was performed on ice, a few meters off the ground with razor sharp blades dangerously, but gracefully, flying past their faces and body. We were mesmerised and on the edge of our seat.

Overall The Nutcracker on Ice is an amazing production and credit is definitely due to the entire cast and crew for delivering a production that didn't fail to entertain. Their talent is astounding and it's only complimented by the amazing set, costumes (dresses that light up) and choreography. Boys in tights, magic and even some fire dancers. You can't miss this... Trust us!

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