Reviewed by Louise Watts
With Christmas Eve in 2 days’ time, we had the perfect opportunity to get in the festive spirit today by watching “The Nutcracker”. This timeless beautiful ballet was produced by “Let’s All Dance” who are a dance company aiming to get dance out to all children. I attended The Hawth theatre in Crawley today with my 3-year-old son and my 9-year-old daughter.
Christmas would not be Christmas in my house without a visit to The Nutcracker. We had already attended the full ballet last month, but I was particularly looking forward to this production as my 9-year-old had struggled to understand the story and I was hoping that this would make it all make sense to her.
It was performed in the Studio at The Hawth, which is a small intimate venue with approximately 100 seats. This was perfect for all the little children as it was not as daunting as a full auditorium can be. The show consisted of a cast of six – three men and three women. I particularly enjoyed seeing a more balanced cast as the ballet is often very heavily women focused.
From the moment the show started, and Clara entered the stage, it was obvious that although this was a ballet aimed at younger children there was certainly no compromise on the skill and expertise of the dancers. The footwork and expression of Clara had you engaged right from the very beginning and as other cast members joined the stage, it was apparent that the level of the performance was going to be exceptional. We were encapsulated in Clara’s world where she ended up meeting the Mouse King, dancing with the Nutcracker and also alongside the Sugar Plum Fairy.
The stage was quite small, and this showed their skill off even more as usually with the ballet, they have full use of the stage and easily fill it. To dance on a smaller stage, I would imagine is more difficult, but you never got the feeling that they found it a problem at all. They used the stage to its fullness but even managed some more complicated weaving moves with the whole cast on stage, but you did not get the feeling that the dancing was compromised due to lack of space.
The set was simple with a Christmas tree, two candy canes and some snowflakes. It worked really well and although simple, it was enough to get the children’s imagination working. The use of artificial snow worked a treat for the younger audience and added to the festive ambience.
As you would expect with the ballet, the costumes were absolutely stunning and fitted the story brilliantly. The girls’ dresses were beautiful and the boys wearing their traditional tights as you would expect. Everybody looked like they were enjoying it, both in the audience and on stage.
The running time was approximately 50 minutes without an interval which I think for a children’s ballet was perfect. I would recommend this show to anyone who would like to introduce their children to the world of ballet with a short but sweet experience. An absolutely delightful first ballet for everybody.
Tickets cost £13 (booking fees may apply).
The Nutcracker is at The Hawth in Crawley from 21-23 December 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit hawth.co.uk or call the box office on 01293 553636.
The Hawth, Hawth Avenue, Crawley, Sussex, RH10 6YZ | 01293 553636