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Promotional poster for 'Nutcracker! 2012'Nutcracker!

Liverpool Empire Theatre
January 24 – January 28, 2012

Composer: Pytor IlyichTchaikovsky
Director: Matthew Bourne
Producer: New Adventures:
Cast Includes: James Leece, Madeleine Brennan, Hannah Vassallo, Leon Moran, Chris Trenfield.

Running Time: 2 hrs.

This twentieth anniversary production of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker is sumptuous, quirky, effervescent, glittering and – above all – indicative of what Matthew Bourne’s success has been built … fun!

Bourne is, without question, the Tim Burton of dance. His exaggerated takes on well -known balletic classics have inspired and dismayed, enthralled and enraged but nevertheless haveall inspired debate and left audiences gasping. 

Nutcracker is no exception as the action switches from a wonderfully dull Orphanage at Christmas, to a frozen lake and thence to Sweetieland in such a blur of colour and movement it is difficult to find fault with the departure from the more sentimental, soporific productions of the original.

Hannah Vassallo as the enraptured Clara is a delight, seizing the stage and turning every nuance, pirouette and leap to her own and her character’s advantage. Excellent too is James Leece as Dr Dross – the master of the orphanage – and King Sherbert – Master of Sweetieland – whose menace and indulgenceare as comparable as necessary so as for the audience to relate nicely and accordingly with each in turn.

The set, which cracks and shakes, shimmers and shines, bedazzles and mesmerises with each scene change, deserves to inclusion amongst the cast list such is the impact it has upon the production, whereas the costumes are magnificently drawn and so add an edge to the characters that might otherwise be missing. Gobstoppers, Sundaes and Marshmallows as well as nymphs, goodies and baddies are all instantly identifiable, thanks to the semiotics of dress.

Yet it is the pure spectacle of this dance production – for that, in essence, is what it is and not strictly speaking a ballet at all – the sheer majesty and awe inspiring beauty that will live long in the memory and with new productions on the horizon, it can only be hoped that Matthew Bourne and New Adventures are back on a stage in Liverpool sooner rather than later.

Chris High


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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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