Reviews

The Nutcracker swirls at super-speed

12 Dec 11 - Artslink.co.za - Jennifer de Klerk

What is Christmas without The Nutcracker – to be honest, it’s somewhat overdone, but then you have never seen it spinning like this.

The glorious music of Tchaikovsky is there, the story is there, the moves are basically there, but much, much smoother and faster, but then this is ice… on ice you can spin and swirl and speed.

Admittedly, the skaters do not have much space for their pyrotechnics – only the stage of the Teatro turned into a rink for the occasion - but then they don’t seem to need it, skidding past each other with precision control and split-second timing.

Certainly there is nothing more magical than an atmospheric blue backdrop of snow-laden trees, falling snowflakes in the soft light and the swirling figures of skaters floating lightly over the ice.

Costumes and scenery are spectacular, particularly the sumptuous brilliance of the colours in the Eastern-style Kingdom of Sweets.

The first half, of course, belongs to the Christmas party, with high-jinks and humour, children’s frolics, ballroom dancing and the eerie appearance of the magician and his assistant with Drosselmeyer flying, not only over the stage, but over the audience as well.

A smart set of soldiers, a motley set of sinuous rats and battle is joined … this is fun.

I’m not sure who we saw in the lead roles of Marie and the Nutcracker Prince (two options are given in the programme), but I doubt it matters. No doubt they are equally skilled. Our pair, especially our Marie’s expressive face, brought in a touching and tender quality of young love and romance.

The second half raises the bar even higher as the soloists perform the divertissements from Spain, China, Arabia and Russia, keeping the traditional elements and ballet steps but adding the speed and skills of the ice, even taking to the air in a spectacular display.

My heart was in my mouth when they started spinning flames as well. Awesome, but one misstep or swirl out of place … but of course I needn’t have worried.

Time flies and the magic has to end, but during the curtain call the cast vies with each other to produce yet more daring leaps and spins in a high-speed  chase of sheer skill and enjoyment.

This fast-paced, skilful and spectacular show is perfect family and festive fun.

The Nutcracker on Ice with the Imperial Ice Stars from Russia is at the Teatro at Montecasino until January 15.

Jennifer de Klerk is editor of Artslink.co.za

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