REVIEW: The Nutcracker, Let’s All Dance (Sadler’s Wells)

This year’s Christmas offering from child-friendly ballet company Let’s All Dance is the family favourite, The Nutcracker. Having missed it when the tour pirouetted into South East London earlier this month, we were very pleased to be invited along to the Lilian Baylis Studio at Sadler’s Wells to review yesterday’s show. Mrs Mummy was at work, so Mummy was also deilghted to have an excuse to get the Munchkins out of the house and into a theatre to round off the year in stagey style.

For those unfamiliar with Let’s All Dance, the company (founded in 2010 by Orit Sutton) specialises in making professional ballet accessible to young audiences. Its small-scale, abridged performances give children a taste of ballet in a relaxed and welcoming environment. They are a brilliant way of familiarising youngsters with what can feel like quite an exclusive art form, without having to shell out for a long, expensive production. For children who attend ballet classes, it’s also an opportunity to bring to life what they are learning in their lessons.

The Lilian Baylis Studio, set up for The Nutcracker by Let’s All Dance

We’ve seen a couple of Let’s All Dance productions in the past, including last year’s festive production of Sleeping Beauty and their recent tour of The Princess and the Frog. The Nutcracker is our favourite so far, with its seasonal setting and familiar Tchaikovsky score making for a very festive experience. There are plenty of brightly coloured, twinkly costumes for young eyes to feast upon and engaging action that keeps the audience transfixed without having to dumb things down or resort to gimmicks. Fran Mangiacasale’s choreography (with additional choreography by Viktorija Sibakovskyte and members of the company) evokes the original choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov. It is real ballet, albeit abridged and with a small cast and recorded music. And it is performed brilliantly by a company headed by Rosy Nevard as Clara and Orlando Bond as the Nutcracker Prince (who Quaver immediately recognised from The Princess and The Frog). It’s just the right length for the intended audience, condensing the well known story into a single Act (of around an hour). Plenty of time for them to see some proper ballet without dragging things out beyond their concentration span. As usual, there is a chance to go up on stage at the end for a photo with the cast. And as ever, Quaver raced straight to the front for her moment in the limelight while Crotchet stayed firmly in her seat!

We had a lovely afternoon and would thoroughly recommend The Nutcracker for dance loving families who want to treat their children with a trip to a reduced sugar version of the Kingdom of Sweets before building up to the full length ballet.

RATING: Raindrops, Whiskers, Kettles and a Solitary Mitten (aka 3.5 out of 5 of my favourite things).

The Nutcracker is playing at the Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells from 30 December 2019 to 5 January 2020.