Reviewed by Amanda Hayes
If you are looking for a fabulous festive treat for your dance mad children, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the performance of The Nutcracker at The Hawth theatre in Crawley, West Sussex. Arriving 30 minutes before our 5pm performance my six-year-old son was surprised to see a packed car park. As soon as we entered the lobby, we could see it was also going to be a packed performance. Held in the main theatre there was hardly a spare seat left as we took our places ready for the start of the show.
After a sell-out tour last year from Let’s All Dance, they once again tour throughout the festive period with shows running at several theatres in the South East from late November through to early January. Let’s All Dance are a professional dance company aiming to get dance out to all children and they certainly succeed with this Christmas classic.
The set is fairly simple with a large and beautifully decorated Christmas tree and a dolls house surrounded by a few toys, a simple set that doesn’t detract from the beauty of the dancing.
The performance follows a shortened version of the classic story beginning with a party at the Edward’s house. Clara and her brother Frederick greet their friends and then bored Frederick teases his sister which is all played out skilfully in dance. Clara’s uncle arrives with gifts and presents Clara with a wooden nutcracker doll, which, filled with jealousy, brother Frederick fights over and the nutcracker doll breaks. Clara begins to cry until relieved, her uncle manages to fix the doll. She leaves it with her other toys and goes off to bed. Unbeknown to her, her Uncle spreads his magic on the toys as she sleeps.
Later on, unable to sleep, she returns to her toys by the Christmas tree, falls asleep, and dreaming finds herself surrounded by mice. The children’s costumes are simply delightful as they dance as mice but the mouse king’s costume is menacing, as it should be, as he threatens Clara. All at once The Nutcracker doll comes alive and fights with the mouse king. Being a typical boy, this was my son’s favourite scene!
The battle is won by The Nutcracker and one by one the toys come alive backed by all the classic music that we know and love including Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker suite and the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. The costumes throughout are gorgeous and the very young dancers were unbelievable in what must be a really daunting situation, bright lights and a large and very busy auditorium.
The magical night continues with stunning performances from the Russian doll, Chinese doll, Snow King and the Sugar Plum Fairy. Clara is soon drawn into the dancing and partners the Nutcracker with some amazing lifts and dainty steps. Throughout, the main characters are joined by the group of young dancers in an array of stunning costumes further bringing the story to life.
What an amazing festive delight this performance was, perfectly suited to children with a running time of around an hour without an interval, it was long enough to enjoy but not long enough for small children to get restless. Beautiful costumes, fantastic dancers and classic music mean that the story is expertly brought to life without the need for a narrator. With shows running until the 5th of January any ballet loving family should try and get tickets to see Lets All Dance perform The Nutcracker.
We watched The Nutcracker at The Hawth Theatre in Crawley, West Sussex. Situated just ten minutes from Gatwick Airport, with very easy access to the M23 motorway and plenty of free parking The Hawth is a great theatre to watch any show.
Let’s All Dance are currently on tour with The Nutcracker, for more information and tour dates visit www.lets-all-dance.co.uk.
For other shows at The Hawth in Crawley visit hawth.co.uk or call the box office on 01293 553636.
The Hawth, Hawth Avenue, Crawley, Sussex, RH10 6YZ | 01293 553636