Nutcracker the musical, Pleasance Theatre, review: ‘Charming, but lacks x-facotr’

Maria Coyne as Marie and Peter Nash as the Nutracker Prince. Picture: Pamela Raith

Maria Coyne as Marie and Peter Nash as the Nutracker Prince. Picture: Pamela Raith - Credit: Archant

This musical adaptation of the festive ballet staple is engaging, yet could do with some polish, says Nathalie Raffray.

nutcracker the musical

pleasance theatre

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If you are a fan of fairytales, this musical theatre version of the festive ballet is a charming retelling of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece.


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More a musical play than a panto with a little suspended imagination (you’ll hear the word oft repeated), it’s an engaging two hours.

Uncle Drosselmier (Kris Webb) visits the Stahlbaum family and settles down with teen Marie (Maria Coyne) pulling a tale from a storybook he’s given her.

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With a spin of the revolving stage, the set changes and the audience is plunged into a different time and place; a land ruled by King Wilhelm and Queen Wanda celebrating the birth of their daughter Pirlipat.

While preparing for the celebratory banquet the Queen meets Mouseyrinks, who casts an evil spell which can only be undone by a magic nut. Jamie Birkett excels in her performance as this evil mother hellbent on exacting revenge for her dead sons.

The original numbers can’t always be heard over the band nor are all singers matched in ability. At times Birkett’s vocal is weak but she comes back with full comic panache in the second half, to steal the show with a Swan Lake pastiche.

Ranging from tap to ballroom the dancing was at times out of sync but that was also redeemed by the Sugar Plum Fairy singing in the Land Of The Sweets.

There’s a fun interchange of costumes and props while Drosselmier, with his ethereal personality, travels the world looking for the elusive nut, including a model boat on a ocean and a puppet homing pigeon.

By the end you do believe that with a little imagination, the impossible can happen.

This doesn’t have the polish of the XFactor, or Strictly, but it does have bags of charm.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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