REVIEW: NUTCRACKER! THE MUSICAL (Pleasance Theatre)
There is a reason no one has ever thought to create a musical version of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker before. It’s a bit akin to cooking a delicious fillet steak and then smothering it in kebab shop mayo; just not cricket. I am not a classical music purist, but it does seem like a bit of a silly idea to try and improve one of the greatest scores ever written by adding substandard lyrics and clunky dialogue.
The trouble is Nancy Holson’s adaptation is full of paradoxes that leave the audience puzzled. The main theme is meant to be the power of imagination, but rather than creating theatrical magic director Ollie Fielding just has his lead actor throw his hands up in a flourish and say ‘Imagination’ – not particularly inspiring stuff. Similarly, choreographer Alejandro Postigo has the cast doing a ballet sequence during the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy which only highlights the fact that this isn’t as good as the Ballet.
The cast are not particularly enjoyable to watch as they lack the polished flourish to put the audience at ease. Several members have characterful voices and have moments where they’re able to shine but on the whole are disappointing. Notably Kriss Webb is miss-cast as the eccentric clockmaker Drosselmier as he lacks the magical twinkle in his eye and charisma to play this integral part.
There are a few elements of Peaceful Lion’s production that are notable including Emily Bestow’s gorgeous puppets such as a giant glittery elephant and Eleanor Field’s steam punk inspired costumes for the Mouse Queen and Prince. But by far the best part of Nutcracker The Musical is Jamie Brikett’s performance as the Mouse Queen Mouseyrinks. Full of perfect comic timing, excellent vocal performances and bundles of stage presence, it is easy to see why she gets the biggest cheer of the evening and brings the whole show up.
Despite a few notable positives, Nutcracker The Musical left a lot to be desired. Not magical and engaging enough to be a true family show and lacking the theatrical excitement to interest adults, it stumbles from conception to execution.
Reviewed by Roz Carter
Photo: Pamela Raith Photography