The Nutcracker at The Hawth Crawley

+ + January 24, 2016


Earlier this week, I was invited to Crawley to see The Nutcracker, performed by The Saint-Petersburg Classic Ballet Theatre of Marina Medvetskaya at The Hawth. If you’re thinking “The Nutcracker, in January?!” then you’re probably a bit right. It was certainly odd to see such a festive ballet mid-way through January, which is arguably one of the most bleak and least Christmassy times of year. But it’s still The Nutcracker – the gateway drug of the ballet world.

Natalia Romanova was very engaging as Clara, guiding the audience through the story which is, of course, set against the brilliant music of Tchaikovsky. It’s a classic story that will be as instantly recognizable as the key pieces of the score, which, of course, makes it a great night out for established ballet enthusiasts as well as anyone less familiar with the genre. I kept thinking throughout about how perfect it would be for Jem‘s daughter Izzy, as it contains a fair amount of comedic moments, especially from the mice and Mouse King.

While the ballet company did a good job with the performance, there were a few little irksome bits in the technical aspects of the production. The sound didn’t quite support the magnitude of a Tchaikovsky composition and lacked an immersive effect. The magical spell of the music and dance was disturbed rather abruptly by the sound of the snow machine before the end of Act I. I heard many audience members exclaim that they thought someone was doing the vacuuming and that the noise was made in error. And the final lighting cue didn’t seem to go quite to plan, which snapped me out of the mood before the finale had completed. But, oh well, the joys of live theatre, right? And with a single day run, it’s not unexpected that there be a hiccup or two.

It was still an entertaining evening, and I think it’s great when local theatres bring ballet companies and other productions from abroad to introduce them to new audiences. And there is nothing better for a ballet introduction than the Nutcracker.

Thank you to Theatre Bloggers for arranging this lovely evening out!

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