Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Tue 11–Sat 15 Mar
When it comes to getting bums on seats, a popular title goes a long way. But Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker! has far more than its name to thank for the show’s phenomenal success. Like all his productions with New Adventures – from Swan Lake to Edward Scissorhands – this reinvention of the ballet classic has been made accessible for all comers.
‘I think our Nutcracker has been so successful because it’s quite different from all the other versions,’ says New Adventures’ associate director, Scott Ambler. ‘We stray from the initial ballet brief and people enjoy that fresh look at it. Traditionally Nutcracker is a show that mums and daughters go to, whereas ours appeals to a much broader audience.’
Opening in a grim, Dickensian orphanage run by the maniacal Dr Dross (played by Ambler) the action then shifts to a shimmering ice rink before entering the fabulously colourful ‘Sweetieland’. Using Tchaikovsky’s sweeping score and fusing a range of dance styles, Bourne’s Nutcracker stays faithful to the original structure. But where some ballets have you reaching for the programme notes on a regular basis, Bourne keeps the storytelling clear, witty and fun.
‘People say we create cutting edge dance theatre,’ says Ambler. ‘But what we do is very old fashioned: we tell stories without words. We never put a synopsis in our programmes - if we’re not telling the story we’re not doing our job.’