London goes Nutcracker-crazy this month with no less than four very different productions on offer.
Tchaikovsky’s classic Christmas tale has been knocking around since 1892 and has never been more popular. Some major American ballet companies generate around 40% of their annual ticket revenues from performances of The Nutcracker and, going by the quality and quantity of opportunities to see it over the next few weeks, that appeal is mirrored on this side of the Atlantic.
Told over two acts, this much-loved fairy tale has it all, not least a score to die for, breathtaking dance routines and a delightfully surreal plot somewhere between The Snowman and Alice In Wonderland. Where else would you see toys vividly come to life and gingerbread soldiers take on hungry mice before a trip with a wooden nutcracker to meet the Sugar Plum Fairy?
For those looking to get their annual Nutcracker fix, here are four options.
English National Ballet, The Coliseum
Featuring over 100 dancers on one of London’s grandest stages, the English National Ballet returns to the Coliseum to restage a show seen by over 70,000 audience members last year.
Check out the trailer:
Runs for 34 performances from 16 December-10 January. For more information on ticket availability and prices, see the ENO website.
The Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House
The hottest Nutcracker in town has very few tickets left but the ROH is offering more than just a live performance. On 8 and 16 December and 8 January, a pre-show talk for £5 (£2.50 for students) will give some expert insights into this magical masterpiece, while the show on 16 December will be broadcast live to cinemas around the UK. If you can’t grab a ticket to the ROH, grab some popcorn instead at your local picture palace.
Runs until 14 January. Tickets £11-£117. For more information on the pre-show talks and the ticket availability, see the ROH website.
Nutcracker On Ice, The Royal Albert Hall
Played out on 4,000 square feet of ice, this production sees the Imperial Ice Stars return to the Royal Albert Hall for the third time. There are a mind-boggling quantity of ingredients - not least 14 tonnes of ice, 2,500 litres of anti-freeze and 15 km of piping under the rink - and we’re promised colourful projections, opulent costumes, magic tricks and special effects as well as spectacular skating hijinks and a live orchestra. This is what it looks like.
Runs from 28 December-2 January. For more information on ticket prices and availability, see the RAH website.
Nutcracker! The Musical, The Pleasance
Those looking for a different take on the Tchaikovsky charmer might want to head to north London’s Pleasance theatre. Written by multiple Emmy Award-winner Nancy Holson, this lyrical version features a modern musical score orchestrated by Bruce Kiesling.
For a sample of what to expect, check out this clip of The Land Of The Sweets performed by Leigh Rhiannon Coggins, the Sugarplum Fairy.
Runs until 3 January. The performance on 20 December will be a relaxed performance. For more information on ticket availability and prices, see the Pleasance’s website.