26
Jun
12

The Nutcracker On Ice

The Nutcracker On Ice

The Nutcracker on Ice

Imperial Ice Stars

Lyric Theatre, QPAC

20th – 24th June 2012

Reviewed by Meredith McLean

Prepare to gasp, as I am about to make an awful confession. Until last night I never had seen nor had I known the story of the Nutcracker. Oh the horror, oh the shame of it all. I suppose you could call this one of those awkward and often times embarrassing moments for my Gen Y brethren. It’s a particular kind of shame too because I know a lot of people will turn their noses up at such a breath-taking and beautiful performance that offers a little something for everyone. This is theatre at its most reminiscent. I almost expected to see old ladies with opera glasses eyeing the stage from above and well-to-do men puffing away on pipes. The Imperial Ice Stars had taken me on a time warp into a gorgeous Christmas tale of enchantment and I loved every minute of it.

The Imperial Ice Stars officially began in 2004 lead by internationally acclaimed producers James Cundall and Tony Mercer. But don’t get the wrong impression. This pair isn’t the Mr. Bialystock and Mr. Bloom type of producers that might come to mind. They also adhere to the contributions of the former speed skater Vladislav Olenin. To the naked eye all of the cast could be called speed skaters if you asked me. The cast whips around the freshly laid ice stage then leap in the air, perhaps even toss their partners to the others making it look flawless. It’s all so exotic to me. The twenty-six strong cast are the crème de la crème of skating talent. They perform feats seen in Olympic events. Amazing stunts with names like double axles, triple flips and aerial whatsits and thingamajigs. Maybe I’m getting my names muddled. Needless to say, they do some impressive tricks.

But it’s more than just tricks. They not only dazzle us with their deft movements and nimble bodies, but the pride and character is beaming from their faces. Their expressions, though over-reaching at times, are all part of this style of theatre. This ballet-like show pulls me back to another time when Christmas meant putting on your lovely frock or your dashing coattails. When children waited for Father Nicholas to bring that kite or dolly they’ve been praying for and the adults dance to ballroom music. In a touching way the old-fashioned nature of the play becomes warm and homely on the cold ice.

You must prepare yourself if you decide to see The Nutcracker on Ice. The homely traditionalism can become quite thick if you’re not expecting it. The Nutcracker it self is an old story that has been gracing the stage since the late 19th century. This adaption features orchestral overtones to the twenty-six cast members’ campy facial expressions and daring feats. In a magnificent way it really does feel like a ballet transported to the ice. There is magic hiding between the clouds of ice that burst from the cast members’ skates. The kind of magic that helps a darling young girl fall in love. A kind of magic that helps our Nutcracker defeat the Mouse King. Magic that takes you away to wintery dream worlds somewhere afar. If only there was magic to make the children in the audience sit still.

The Nutcracker on Ice is a wonderful journey. All you can do is grip the Imperial Ice Stars’ hands and hold onto your hat because they will show you it is possible to fly. I wish I could shake each individual skater’s hand and thank him or her for the bursting, sparkling, at times even flaming night of culture. But because that can’t be done the next best thing is to go see The Nutcracker on Ice yourself. The tour continues:

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