The Nutcracker (2021), Festival Theatre, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Principals Marge Hendrick as Sugarplum Fairy and Evan Loudon as Nutcracker Prince in Peter Darrell's The Nutcracker. Photo Credit Andy Ross
Show details
Scottish Ballet
Christopher Hampson (Artistic Director); Peter Darrell (Choreographer); Les Brotherston (Set & Costume Designer); George Thomson (Lighting Designer); Jean-Claude Picard (Chief Conductor); Robert Baxter (Guest Conductor); James Ham (Guest Conductor); Oliver Rydout (Rehearsal Director); James Barton (Rehearsal Assistant); Tamarin Stott (Rehearsal Assistant); Kristen McGarrity (Rehearsal Assistant); Tim Palmer (Production Manager); Zoe Hayward (Stage Manager)
Dancers: Evan Loudon (The Nutcracker Prince ); Roseanne Leney (The Sugar Plum Fairy); Marge Hendrick (The Snow Queen); Nicholas Shoesmith (Drosselmeyer); Prologue: The Christmas Party and Clara's Dream - Christopher Harrison (The Colonel); Grace Horler (His Wife); Aisling Brangan (Aunt Catarina); Madeline Squire (Aunt Angelina); Abby Wallace (Clara), Jonathan Cormie (Fritz) - (His Children); Rimbaud Patron (Their Uncle); Noa Barry (Nanny); Roseanna Leney, Marge Hendrick, Evan Loudon (Entertainers); Artists of Scottish Ballet (Party Guests ); Act One: The Land of Ice and Snow Rimbaud Patron (King Rat); Constant Vigier (Drummer Boy); Artists of Scottish Ballet (Soldiers, Snowflake Fairies); Act Two: The Realm of the Sugar Plum Fairy - Nicholas Vavrecka, Javier Andreu, Harvey Littlefield, Matthew Broadbent (Sugar Plum Attendants); Thomas Edwards, Constant Vigier, Claire Souet (Spanish Dance); Grace Paulley (Arabian Dance); Alice Kawalek, Kayla-Maree Tarantolo (Chinese Dance); Jamie Reid, Aaron Venegas, Simon Schilgen (Russian Dance); Grace Horler, Aisling Brangan, Melissa Parsons (French Dance); Rimbaud Patron (English Dance); Artists of Scottish Ballet (Flower Fairies); Nutcracker Children - Scottish Ballet Associates: Tristan Lechner, Ollis Oliver, Kaitlyn Allan, Caoimhe Millar, Isla McIntyre, Orlaith Kelly (Party Guests & Mice)

Scottish Ballet Orchestra: Jean-Claude Picard (Chief Conductor); First Violin - Justine Watts (Leader); Gillian Risi, Stewart Webster, Kirstin Drew, Anne Macdonald, Fiona Murdoch, Catherine James, Elana Eisen, Joseph Hodson, Emma Donald; Second Violin - Katrina Lee, Colin McKee, Jackie Norrie, Franziska Deschner, Abigail Young, Kirsty Main, Emma Pantel, Heather MacLeod, Dan Paterson; Violas - Ian Anderson; Bethany Woodford, Emma Connell Smith, Christine Anderson, David McCreadie, Maggie Montgomery, Charlotte Penketh; Cellos - Mark Bailey, Susan Dance, Rosie Townhill, Nick Byrne, Miranda Phythian-Adams, Elias Rooney; Double Basses Rick Standley, Chris Sergeant, Kirsty Matheson, Daniel Griffin; Flutes – Eilidh Gillespie, Andrew Douglas, Tom Hancox, Emma Roche, Michelle McCabe, Fiona Chisholm; Oboes - Ruth Contractor, Catherine Earnshaw, Gaynor Gowman; Cor Anglais – Mary James, Kirstie Logan; Clarinets- Robert Fairley, Janet Laird; Bass Clarinet – Robert Digney; Bassoons - Grant MacKay, Alex Walker, Heather Brown; French Horns – Helena Jacklin, Christine McGinley, Hayley Tonner, Robert Newth; Trumpets - Sandy McGrattan, Robert Baxter, Brian McGinley; Trombones - Nigel Cox, Paul Stone, Alan Adams; Tuba - Jonathan Gawn; Timpani - Peter Evans; Percussion – Jonathan Chapman, Martin Willis, David Kerr; Harp - Meredith McCracken; Celeste - Brian Prentice
Running time

Scottish Ballet brings all the warmth of the Christmas season to their sumptuous and heart-warming production of The Nutcracker. It sparkles with the joy that comes from watching a childhood tale spring to life. With beautifully evocative music from Scottish Ballet’s orchestra, this production is a feast for the eyes and all the senses.

The story of The Nutcracker is simple, easily drawing in the audience to its world. Who when young did not dream of toys coming to life and magical worlds? The premise is set up with a wonderfully busy drawing room scene which introduces family and friends at a Christmas gathering where a lively group of children play and compare toys. Richly detailed costumes add to the atmosphere of the piece, meaning that the set is simple, allowing the storytelling to shine through.

The Nutcracker soldier, so closely tied to a symbol of the festive season now, is a toy that spurs imagination and leads us into the dreamworld of the tale. The winter’s scene of dreamworld introduces us to a range of characters who dance their way in and out of the dream. From charming child-sized mice to the eponymous Nutcracker soldier, a powerful Evan Loudon, to his dancing partner, the Sugar Plum Fairy, elegantly portrayed by Roseanne Leney, we drift easily through the dreamworld, entranced by the adventures in this other world.

One of the highlights of The Nutcracker is its strong ensemble. With so many characters and elements to tell, particularly in the second half of the show when the creatures and toy each have their own lively dances and story, the ensemble still manages to reel us into their worlds. There are different elements of fun in each section, with the characters so clearly happy to have the chance to show off their lives. Having a chance to peek into the lives of these dream creatures is inspiring; it reminds us to remember to use our imaginations, to let them flow and allow our child-like sides to come out every so often.

Leaving a warm glow by the end, this is a charming show which will delight all ages, particularly if you want something that will get you in the Christmas spirit. Catch it if you can – you will definitely not regret it.

Times: 10-11 December, 7:30pm; 11-12 December, 2:30pm; 15-18 December, 7:30pm; 17-19 December, 2:30pm; 21-23 December, 7:30pm; 21-23 December, 2:30pm; 24 December, 1:30pm; 29-30 December, 7:30pm; 30 December, 2:30pm; 31 December, 1:30pm; Inclusive Performance: 16 December, 2:30pm; Audio Description & Touch Tour: 18 December, 1:00pm. On tour to Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness, Newcastle, Belfast: 5 January - 12 February 2022

Tickets: £19.50-£52.50

Photo: Principals Marge Hendrick as Sugarplum Fairy and Evan Loudon as Nutcracker Prince in Peter Darrell's The Nutcracker. Photo Credit Andy Ross