Review: Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker!, Wales Millennium Centre

Rachel and Seren Howells review of Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker! at Wales Millennium Centre.

Matthew Bourne has always had the ability to retell a classic story with a modern twist. This has been showcased in previous stage presentations of Romeo and Juliet and The Car Man.

Bourne’s take on the classic ballet, Nutcracker! is no exception, set in a larger-than-life orphanage of Dr Dross  on Christmas eve.  During the opening scenes of the show the orphans are preparing for their party with the Governors of the Orphanage where each is gifted a present which must be given back at the end of the party. 

From the opening scenes you see characters appear that develop throughout the show.

Katrina Lyndon plays Clara, the young orphan who steals back her present and hides it in the cupboard.  From the early scenes she shines on stage, combining stage presence with good storytelling skills.

Ultimately, it is Clara’s “present” that guides the audience through the story.  This been Harrison Dowzel’s portrayal of Nutcracker!, who commands the audience attention with his every move.

The presentation also has some lighter moments, ably provided by Ashley Shaw and Dominic North as Sugar and Fritz who constantly provide laugh out loud moments as the prim and proper son and daughter of the orphanage owners.

It’s unfair to single out any one performer in a presentation such as Nutcracker! All the different characters shine through, giving the audience opportunity to pick out individuals and focus on them at different points. Each member of the ensemble gets their time to shine as they perform the amazing choreography to a very high standard, keeping the audience engaged throughout.

The costumes combined with Anthony Ward’s simplistic set and Tchaikovsky’s iconic score encapsulate what the show is about. While lighting is employed to great effect creating the different scenes from a drab, dark orphanage to the scrumptiously bright, vibrant 1930s Hollywood musical inspired Sweetieland.

Cupid’s fun and sweet characters help move the second half forward and tell the story to us as a audience and there is a lovely moment in the second half, when we see the small glimpse of the guests to the wedding by adding different influences such as Spanish dance at the beginning of the act.

A sweet treat to enjoy any time of year, Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker! runs at Wales Millennium Centre’s Donald Gordon Theatre until March 26.

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