Already it is that time of year when Christmas lights appear across London streets and you can’t seem to go anywhere without hearing a jazz version of Away in a Manger. The season also comes, of course, with festive theatre from the most raucous of pantomimes to the elegant and classical fairytale ballet, The Nutcracker.
At the London Palladium until 3 November, both ends of the spectrum combine to form Nutcracker on Ice. The show is laughably awful in places, but in others, the impressive talent of the skaters had us gasping in amazement.
Tchaikovsky’s recorded score is nothing short of butchered – with the ordering and context of his music completely mixed up and several segments repeated excessively. But there are an abundance of exciting tricks to watch – from huge lifts to numerous pirouettes – and in Act II particularly, the choreography is superb, with a sweet Chinese dance and spectacularly acrobatic Arabian.
There were quite a few press night hiccups, with errant snow falling in the living room and Keith Chegwin, making a cameo appearance as Herr Drosselmeyer, flying on at the wrong time and grabbing onto the scenery to pull himself back offstage. The London Palladium staff were also appallingly clueless when it came to seating latecomers, bringing people in throughout the first half, seeming unable to find their seats and chatting loudly in the aisle.
But we don’t want to dwell on these issues, as the cast itself did an excellent job, with Bogdan Berezenko’s handsome Nutcracker Prince especially charming. The Nutcracker on Ice is far from perfect, but it is vibrant, Christmassy and fun.
The Nutcracker on Ice is at the London Palladium until 3 November. Tickets priced £21-76 are available from the Really Useful Theatres Group. Londonist received a complimentary ticket to review this performance.
Pictured: Waltz of the Flowers in The Nutcracker on Ice