NUTCRACKER THE MUSICAL
Book & Lyrics by Nancy Holson
Music by Pytor Illych Tchaikovsky.
Main House, Carpenters Mews, North Road, London N7 9EF to 3 Jan 2016.
Tues-Sun 7.30pm. Mat 12,16,17, 24, 27, 30 Dec & 2 Jan 4pm.
Runs 2 hr One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7609 1800
Review: William Russell 9 December.
A cracker that does not go off.
There is no denying Nancy Holson had a rather good idea when she decided to turn Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker into a musical. She had a first rate score to exploit when it came to creating the songs and a plot that she could toy with. The ballet has never made much sense, a Christmas dream fantasy at heart, and different choreographers have had their wicked way with it.
It is all about a little girl who dreams about various fairylands, meets a Prince who is also a nutcracker and has battles with bad mice. She was not actually messing with holy writ and Hoffman’s original story was no great shakes either.
But she has revealed in the resultant limp little show that not only had she no idea how to write a pantomime – fair enough since she is an American – she could not write a fairy story to save her life. Director Ollie Fielding should have plucked up courage, ditched the prologue, worked on Act One, scrapped Act Two in its entirety, saving only the aria given the wicked Mouse Queen Mouseyrinks, which is the highlight of the evening and the show’s best joke.
The cast work hard, and the dancing is of a decent standard, but there is some very inaudible singing, a pity because Ms Holson’s lyrics, when one can hear them, are, unlike her book, not at all bad.
Star of the evening is Jamie Birkett. A lady of considerable style she delivers her big Act Two number, Mouseyrinks’ Lament, to tremendous effect despite being a soprano. Wicked ladies ought to be mezzos at the least. As the Nutcracker Prince Peter Nash sings sweetly, little Matthieu Hauret works up a storm as the heroine’s horrid kid brother Fritz, and Maria Coyne is charming as Marie, the teenager obsessed with the nutcracker doll given her by creepy Uncle Drosselmier for Christmas. Nutcracker the Musical is not a total disaster, but it is one of those evenings of lost opportunies. Imagination, the song closing Act one, is very good indeed, ironic because imagination is what is lacking.
Marie/Princess Pirlipat: Maria Coyne.
Drosselmier: Kris Webb.
Mouseyrinks: Jamie Birkett.
Christian Elias, the Nutcracker Prince: Peter Nash.
Dr Stahlbaum/Queen Wanda: Ann Marcuson.
Mr Stahlbaum/King Wilhelm: Henry Wryley-Birch.
Sugar Plum Fairy: Leigh Rhianon Coggins.
Cousin Drosselmier/The Mouse King and Others: Samuel Haughton.
Fritz/Head Chef/ Prince Folderoll and Others: Matthieu Hauret.
Hyacinth/Nursemaid and Others: Annabel Edwards.
Henry the Henchman/Sir Huffington and Others: Ben Stacey.
Bluebell/Owl/Nursemaid and Others: Helen Reuben.
Royal Adviser/Jack and Others: Matthew Ives.
Marigold/Nursemaid and Others: Meg Matthews.
Director: Ollie Fielding.
Musical Director: Robert Hazle.
Choreographer: Alejandro Postigo.
Production Designer: Eleanor Field.
Sound Design: Chris Drohan.
Lighting Design: Sarah McColgan.
Orchestrators: Bruce Kiesling and Paul Rigano.