Nutcracker on Ice at Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, London

Chris Hurley and her husband introduce their five year old grand daughter to a most magical Christmas show

Nutcracker on Ice (c)Robert-Workman

As my grand-daughter is an avid fan of ‘Strictly’ and all things glittering, I jumped at the opportunity to take her to see Nutcracker on Ice at Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park.

The performance takes place in the Winter Palace Theatre where, after entering via its Russian inspired facade, we were transported to a snowy winter’s night in St. Petersburg. The ceiling of this giant heated tent is a galaxy of twinkling lights and the comfortable seats are arranged so they all have a great view of the rink. Although it seats nearly 1000, the auditorium has the intimate atmosphere of a theatre. Projected scenery, that would take us seamlessly through the story, creates magical scenes before the story has even begun.

To make sure that my grand-daughter would keep up with the plot, I had already told her the story of Nutcracker. For those of you who are not familiar with it, the tale begins on Christmas Eve at the elegant home of the Pavlov family where the children Marie and her brother and sister are excitedly unwrapping their presents. Soon guests start to arrive and the Christmas Party begins. Later, Herr Drosselmayer, a magician, arrives with extra presents and gives Maria a carved nutcracker in the shape of a soldier. She loves the nutcracker which, sadly, is broken by her brother during the evening. After everyone has gone to sleep Marie creeps downstairs to check on the Nutcracker but she too falls asleep.

Marie has a vivid dream of an army of mice led by a Mouse King coming into the house and being fought off by toy soldiers commanded by the Nutcracker. With the soldiers victorious the Nutcracker grows to full size becoming a handsome prince. He and Marie then dance in a snow covered pine forest, the Land of Snowflakes.

They journey onward to the Kingdom of Sweets, a paradise where everything is made from treats such as chocolate, candy canes and marzipan and its ruler, The Sugar Plum Fairy, organises a Grand Celebration of dancing for the Prince and Marie.

From the opening chords of Tchaikovsky’s score you just know it’s going to be a great performance. One by one the main characters emerge onto the ice, all world class skaters wearing stunning costumes. The Imperial Ice Stars, wow the audience with heart stopping leaps, jumps, lifts and spins and Drosselmayer gives a virtuoso performance.

My grand-daughter was on the edge of her seat and, after a battle royal where the Nutcracker stabs the Mouse King, she was totally mesmerised as Marie and her prince dance into the forest. I am sure she was holding her breath at the beautiful spectacle of the dancing snowflakes in their light-festooned dresses. By the time we got to the Kingdom of Sweets and the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy her jaw was dropping.

As well as being enthralled by the ice dancing, which included Russian dancing and the famous dance of the flowers, there was the added spectacle of fire juggling, flying sequences, aerial acrobats and illusions. Add to this the wonderful score, which includes the instantly recognisable Sugar Plum Fairy music and the Danse des Mirlitons (Dance of the Flutes) AKA ‘Everyone’s a Fruit and Nutcase’ and you have a show that will enchant all age groups. Our five year old sat, transfixed, her attention completely held for the entire 60 minute performance which is probably just about the right length.

After the show we took a look around Winter Wonderland to take in yet more spectacular sights. In the extravaganza of sparkling lights, there was a big wheel that challenged the height of the London Eye, a roller coaster featuring upside down loops and a vast array of eating opportunities. Many of the rides and the street food come from Germany so the park has a very Christmassy Bavarian feel.

On the train home our grand-daughter was glued to the pictures in the glossy program and I had no doubt that this was going in to school for ‘show and tell’ the next day.

To book tickets for Nutcracker on Ice go to
www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com/attraction/nutcracker-on-ice

For more about Winter Wonderland visit
www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com

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