December 29, 2015  //  By:   //  Opera/Dance, Reviews  //  Comments are off

Other than a pantomime there is no other piece of theatre that is so quintessentially Christmas as The Nutcracker. The Imperial Ice Stars have taken this ballet and given it a spectacular revamp with the elegance and thrills of an ice show.

The majority of the cast, on top of having stunning ice skating skills (most having started when they were 3 to 5 years old!) have also trained in ballet and this gave the show a balletic quality and feel that really worked. Seeing them do point work in their ice skating boots is one of many wonders to behold that they do.

The Royal Albert Hall is a grand venue and The Imperial Ice Stars deliver a show worthy of this iconic venue. We’re treated to not only stunning ice skating which draws audible gasps on occasions. They also surprise us with some great humour and intense acrobatics with a jaw dropping aerial routine in Act 2.

I was especially pleased that the magician character did some proper magic in Act 1. He levitates a drink, makes lights appear from nowhere and vanishes a member of the cast right in front of our eyes on the ice (so no trap door!). They have given real attention to detail on all the characters.

For me it was all these additional touches and flourishes that made the show have that something extra and made it a truly special staging of this much loved piece of theatre.

I’d forgotten just how sumptuous Tchaikovsky’s score was. There are so many famous excerpts and a few hidden gems I’d forgotten about. It really does carry you along and draw you into the magical world of The Nutcracker. The London Concert Orchestra fill the Albert Hall with their gorgeous sound. Just a shame they’re out of sight during the show.

Special mention must go to Mariia Vygalova as Marie. Her characterisation as the young girl caught up in this world is brilliant, coupled with her beautiful dancing she is a joy to watch. It is hard to believe she is only in her late teens when her performance skills are so polished. Her partnership with the Nutcracker Prince of Vladislav Lysoi works seamlessly and the trust between them is seen to all in some of the chancy moves they perform.

It is a real Christmas feast for the eyes and ears. I’ve seen traditional ballet versions of The Nutcracker but have to say I think this is the best interpretation I’ve witnessed. Style, grace and stunts combine to make this a breathtaking interpretation of The Nutcracker.

Reviewed by Dominic Kent

The Nutcracker on Ice is playing at the Royal Albert Hal until Friday 2nd January 2016