Nutcracker rendition with a twist

It's no coincidence The Nutcracker was chosen as the ballet to wrap up the Royal New Zealand Ballet's year – it's quintessentially Christmas, although this performance is a rendition with a twist.

Three shows are to be held in Invercargill, with the first having been performed last night.

The basic premise is the same: central character Clara is overjoyed to receive a nutcracker doll for Christmas but in this version she winds up in hospital after brother Fritz gives her a rather decent wallop around the head with the nutcracker.

The dynamic between the pair, played ably by Tonia Looker and Paul Russell, is a joy to watch and creates more than a few giggles.

After a spoonful of some potent medicine in the children's ward, Clara falls asleep, entering a dreamworld, which springs to life.

Highlights included the wistfulness of the pas de deux between a young doctor (Brendan Bradshaw) and nurse (Katie Hurst-Saxton), the hilarious version of the Dance of the Merlitons (Christopher Hinton-Lewis, Dimitri Kleioris and Pierre Doncq) involving crutches, and a special appearance from the legendary Sir Jon Trimmer, who swapped his role as the Nutcracker Prince in the Royal NZ Ballet's first-ever performance of The Nutcracker in 1963 for the role of the delightfully busty Matron. As always, the inclusion of local children in the cast was a treat.

Also deserving of special mention was the captivating pas de deux between Clara's parents (Clytie Campbell and Qi Huan). Thunderous applause in its dying moments showed the rest of the crowd were as impressed as I was.

The traditional version is a classic for a reason, but the creative liberties taken by the company ensure this version is just as spectacular.

The Southland Times