This icy Nutcracker is utterly bewitching

12 Dec 11 - - Peter Feldman

The Imperial Ice Stars showed their mettle when they were last in South Africa two years ago presenting “Cinderella on Ice.”

The team has now made a welcome return to these shores with that proverbial festive favourite “The Nutcracker,” an utterly bewitching production awash with strikingly colourful costumes, inspiring effects, awesome scenery and some of the most brilliant skating sequences I’ve seen in years.

There is the added dash of the circus in the Arabian Nights scene where two skaters on a flying contraption (Volodymyr Khodakivskyy and Fiona Kirk) swing effortlessly over the stage while executing some intricate manoeuvres. In another scene, Drosselmeyer (Vadim Yarkov), who brings Dr Pavlov’s family their presents, floats over the audience a la Mary Poppins.

The skating from a 24-strong crew of champions is precision personified and it is amazing how well they utilise the small space without bumping into each other.

Most people, I think, are acquainted with Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” which has been staged as a ballet in various forms in South Africa before.

Briefly, it’s the story of Marie (Anastasia Ignatyeva) and the Nutcracker Prince (Bogdan Berezenko), who comes magically to life after being brought as a toy soldier to the girl’s St Petersburg home as a Christmas gift from the mysterious magician, Drosselmeyer. Their moments together are wonderful examples of their art as they sweep across the ice in majestic splendour.

The second act tops the first with its many varied sequences, dazzling scenes in the Land of Snowflakes, that dovetail into the Kingdom of Sweets and then a beautifully executed sequence where The Sugar Plum Fairy (Olena Pyatash) meets the Nutcracker Prince and Marie.

The music, of course, is immortal and helps lift the senses as the story unfolds.

The Imperial Ice Stars have been universally acclaimed for their innovative touches in sparkling productions. With “The Nutcracker on Ice,” they once again attain the high standards one would expect from a company of this stature.

Don’t freeze up this holiday season because “The Nutcracker on Ice” is a spectacular addition to the entertainment menu and should not be missed. For sheer artistry it will appeal to the whole family.

“The Nutcracker on Ice” is on at the Teatro, Montecasino, until 15 January.

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