The Nutcracker

St James Theatre 2, Wellington

29/10/2010 - 06/11/2010

Municipal Theatre, Napier

27/11/2010 - 28/11/2010

Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch

17/11/2010 - 20/11/2010

Bruce Mason Centre, Auckland

08/12/2010 - 09/12/2010

Civic Theatre, 88 Tay Street, Invercargill, Invercargill

11/11/2010 - 13/11/2010

Civic Theatre, cnr of Queen Street & Wellesley Street West, Auckland

01/12/2010 - 05/11/2010

Regent On Broadway, Palmerston North

23/11/2010 - 24/11/2010

Production Details

THE Royal New Zealand Ballet’s The Nutcracker will be a poignant production for Artistic Director Gary Harris as it will be his last at the helm of the company. 

Harris, who took up the position in 2001, says he has loved the job but it is time to move on. “They say time flies when you’re having fun and the past nine years have been no exception.”

Harris will leave New Zealand shores to return home to England in December. 

He cites designing and choreographing his own works as some of the many highlights during his time with the RNZB – including his colourful and fun version of The Nutcracker which opens at the end of this month. 

Harris has revamped the classic story – setting it in a children’s hospital and injecting a large dose of fantasy including Arabian dancers, tango-ing tea ladies, a nod to Hollywood musicals of old and a flying bed. 

“Making work is always rewarding, and to be able to have the freedom to fiddle and change is something I’ve loved about working here. There’s no one saying “you can’t do that”. Having the freedom to follow my instincts and the trust and support from my colleagues has been incredible.” 

The Nutcracker first debuted in 2005 to rave reviews. A special encore season sees the production being restaged – opening inWellington on 29 October and then touring to Invercargill, Christchurch, Palmerston North, Napier, Auckland and Takapuna. 

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s first production of The Nutcracker was in 1963, with choreography by Russell Kerr and Jon Trimmer in the role of the Nutcracker Prince. Productions have followed by Patricia Rianne (1980), Ashley Killar (1994) and Peter Boyes (1997). The RNZB premiered this version in 2005.  

The Nutcracker

Venue, Date and Pricing Information
Wellington – St James Theatre
Friday 29 October 7.30pm
Saturday 30 October 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Sunday 31 October 6.30pm
Wednesday 3 November 7.30pm
Thursday 4 November 7.30pm
Friday 5 November 6:00pm
Saturday 6 November 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Pricing $88 – $36*
Featuring the Vector Wellington Orchestra
0800 842 538
Invercargill – Civic Theatre
Thursday 11 November 7.30pm
Friday 12 November 6.30pm
Saturday 13 November 6.30pm
Pricing $58 – $37
(03) 2111692
Christchurch – Isaac Theatre Royal
Wednesday 17 November 7.30pm
Thursday 18 November 7.30pm
Friday 19 November 6:30pm
Saturday 20 November 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Pricing $80 – $49
Featuring the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra
0800 842 538
Palmerston North – Regent on Broadway
Tuesday 23 November 7.30pm
Wednesday 24 November 6.30pm
Pricing $68 – $37
(06) 3579740
Napier – Municipal Theatre
Saturday 27 November 7.30pm
Sunday 28 November 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Pricing $68 – $47
(06) 835 2702
Auckland – Civic at THE EDGE®
Wednesday 1 December 7.30pm
Thursday 2 December 7.30pm
Friday 3 December 7.30pm
Saturday 4 December 2.30pm &7.30pm
Sunday 5 December 6.30pm
Pricing $88 – $36*
Featuring the Auckland Philharmonia
(09) 357 3354 / 0800 BUY TICKETS
Takapuna – Bruce Mason Centre
Wednesday 8 December 7.30pm
Thursday 9 December 7.30pm
Pricing $77 – $67
(09) 970 9700
Child prices for all venues: $35 (Premium) & $25 (A/B/C/D reserve)
Student tickets for all venues: $25 (B reserve – valid ID required)
*Limited amount of Inner Circle seats available at $120.00

For cast listings on specified dates, got to Nutcracker casting.

Slick theatrical magic!

Review by Kerri Fitzgerald 18th Nov 2010

Everything was beautiful at the ballet tonight as the NZBC filled the stage and spilled dollops of glorious, irreverent fun into the hearts and minds of the receptive Christchurch audience.

The Nutcracker is one of the most widely performed ballets in the world and this version had the right pace, choreography, production elements and spirit to please even those with the most hardened of hearts. The dancers clearly relished their roles, dancing with panache and verve, demonstrating that they could “dance with their hearts rather than their feet.”

Outgoing artistic director, Gary Harris, presents this familiar Christmas story in a new setting and offers scintillating shifts, giving this production a contemporary ‘oomph’. He jet-propels the pace and provides us with a relentless succession of visual, dance and dramatic treats. The scene changes are in themselves masterful, and so swift that the audience barely has time to breathe let alone applaud. Slick theatrical magic!

The choreography is uniformly engaging starting right from the opening with the family romping around the tree enabling the characters to be firmly and comically established (especially Tonia Looker’s Clara and Paul Russell as her robust brother, Fritz).

The progression to the hospital offers chances for a beautiful quartet of dancers holding lights and a trio of young doctors (Christopher Hinton-Lewis, Paul Mathews and Jaered Glavin), that also re-appear in Act 2 with a fabulously funny dance on crutches (the Dance of the Mirlitons) – another real crowd-pleaser. The soldiers feature with visual and choreographic impact in their quick stepping dance that would warm any child’s heart. The theatrical magic here continues throughout. 

A romantic pas de deux between the nurse (Katie Hurst-Saxton) and the doctor (Brendan Bradshaw) in Act 1 is beautifully conceived with lyrical lines and their Act 2 dance in the Arabian section is again sensuously conceived and performed masterfully by this elegant and connected pair. A gorgeous high light indeed and supported by the corps who demonstrated consistent uniformity and solid technique.

Harris’s choreography again in the Grand pas de deux (Act 2) between the parents (danced by fluid Clytie Campbell and the distinguished Qi Huan) is compelling viewing with passing references to Fred and Ginger. It is danced with alacrity by this attentive, musical couple with Qi Huan giving a fine example of dedicated and tender partnering. The orchestral accompaniment (the trusty CSO) at this point seems to meld completely with the dance, leaving me wondering who was leading whom. Beautiful.

Production elements abound with the rich colours and designs of Fredrikson enhanced by fine lighting, snowflakes and wafts of smoke that do exactly what it is supposed to do. Combine all these factors with Jon Trimmer (clearly having a blast) and an entire company who seem to be dancing for the people and you have a winner!

“Everything was beautiful at the ballet,
Raise your arms and someone’s always there.
Yes, everything was beautiful at the ballet
At the ballet
At the ballet!” [Maggie; A Chorus Line]

Christchurch really needed this!
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Make a comment

The Nutcracker - great to watch

Review by Kasey Dewar 13th Nov 2010

 It was a quick dash on a Friday afternoon to see “The Nutcracker” in Invercargill on the 12th November. I had been looking forward to it since I had seen the advertisement on television a while back and judging by the full house many others had too.

The Nutcracker” itself has been around for 100 years but the version presented by the Royal New Zealand Ballet is a twist on the original story. It was created by Artistic Director Gary Harris and Choreographer Adrian Burnett a few years ago and centres around a children’s hospital ward on Christmas Eve. 

On Christmas morning Clara, danced by Katherine Grange and her brother Fritz danced by Harry Skinner open their presents. Of course Clara receives her nutcracker and brother Fritz tries to take it from her, ending in a bump on the head and the ensuing visit to the hospital. Grange excellently conveyed the wide-eyed innocence and excitement of a young girl at Christmas with her expressions and delicate dancing. Skinner as Fritz was entertaining as her troublesome brother with his slingshot in tow.

The hospital is bustling as parents comfort their children watched over by doctors and nurses and Jaered Glavin as the hilarious Matron, bringing giggles from the audience around me. Once the adults leave, the fun begins as Clara’s medicine kicks in and her dreams come to life. From her bed high above the stage she watches as her Nutcracker, played by Daniel Morrison and his soldiers fight off Fritz and his buddies as they pelt them with stones from their slingshots. 

I particularly enjoyed the snow storm with its dancing snowflakes and the beautiful duet between Tonia Looker as a young nurse and Medhi Angot as a doctor. From here I really enjoyed the ballet – clever costuming from Kristian Fredrikson was in full force with the traditional tutus worn by the snowflakes and Arabian dancers clothed in lose harem pants and tops referencing the nurse’s uniforms from earlier. The Dance of the Mirlitons again has the audience giggling along with the occasional re-appearance of Fritz being chased by Matron.

Antonia Hewitt as Clara’s mother did a beautiful job of her solo to the most recognisable piece of music from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” as a Hollywood star. Her duet with Brendan Bradshaw as Father was also great to watch.

A whirlwind of dances brings Clara’s dream-state to a close, from a Spanish tea lady to Chinese dancers and graceful flower petals. I loved how this version used the characters from the real world in Clara’s dream world – I felt the characters were original and really kept the audience engaged.

It would be hard to leave this production without a smile on your face. It brings all the wonder and colour of a child’s world – both imaginary and real to life and reminded me of all that excitement I myself had as a child at Christmas. It is perfect to entertain both kids and adults at this time of year.


Make a comment

A cracker

Review by Deirdre Tarrant 04th Nov 2010

‘A tale with a twist’ is the sub-title of this revisit to Garry Harris’ Nutcracker production first seen here in 2005 and restaged as a farewell season as Harris leaves the company after nine years at the helm.

There was as much excitement over the announcement of his successor, American Ethan Stiefel, at the opening of this season as there was about the ballet itself! This is a curious Nutcracker and almost a pantomime version in its caricatures and staging. Humour abounds and the role of Fritz (Paul Russel) was played with almost slapstick energy with Clara genuinely played as a little girl with almost no dancing at all.

Tonia Looker made the most of it, with gloriously articulated feet, but it would have been rewarding to actually see her dance! The leads in this production are the Mother (Clytie Campbell) and Father (Qi Huan) and they carry the key changes to the traditional storyline. Elegant and extreme in their expressions and reactions, they have some lovely movement and will settle more confidently into their partnering sequences as the season progresses.

The standout memory from the last time I saw this production was the eccentric ‘Mirlitons’ on crutches and again, these three stole the night. Clever moves, slick technique and great use of the music by Christopher Hinton-Lewis, Dimitri Kleioris and Pierre Doneq brought chuckles to the audience.

Sir Jon Trimmer as the buxom matron of the hospital got into the spirit and played it for laughs and there was magic aplenty in the special effects. The floating bed gave a perfect ‘looking from the outside in’ psychological edge to Clara’s concussion caused by over-active hijinks on Christmas morning. The Nutcracker prince led his soldiers but they tickled with feather dusters and lost something of their military edge and there was no sugar plum fairy!

It was a fantasy night at the ballet, and fun, but I missed the virtuosity that comes with classical ballet and the spun sugar magic and soaring lifts that fit so perfectly with Tchaikovsky’s score.

The Vector Orchestra conducted by Kenneth Young played well and seemed to be having as good a time in the pit as the dancers on the stage. His Nutcracker is a tribute to Garry Harris’ joy in his role as director of this company which has been, in his own words, an incredibly exciting adventure – his final season provides an equally exciting adventure for the audience.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Make a comment

A delightful comic cracker

Review by Jennifer Shennan 02nd Nov 2010

This ballet is a delightful romp and enormous fun, with much adventure, high comedy, fine dancing, spirited music and fabulous stage effects throughout. Gary Harris makes a new setting for an old tale, giving energy and interest to the story line. Production values are as high as we always expect with this company. I’m backing the home team and so is my granddaughter, not yet three, who when asked what she liked best, thought long and hard then whispered “All the things…”

The story by E.T Hoffmann is given a contemporary twist, which, whilst hugely entertaining, still treats the themes of sibling rivalry, gender difference and children’s hospitalisation with due respect. It is a strength of productions by Harris that he does not give all the honours just to a leading couple but creates many demanding dancing roles for a sizeable company ( a feature also of his recent production of Don Quixote.)  

Harris, who leaves the artistic directorship at the end of the year, will be long remembered here and a hard act to follow. (Withdrawal symptoms for him and us will be softened by his return to stage The Sleeping Beauty next year.)

Tchaikovsky’s music has sublime melodies and is rich with colourful effect. Just because the music is familiar doesn’t mean it plays itself however, and Kenneth Young, an outstanding conductor for dance, delivers the orchestra beautifully. If recent press reports about serious funding reductions for this civic orchestra are to be believed, we should be marching in the street at such absurdity. If Wellington city does not need an orchestra perhaps it doesn’t need an arts council, a transport system, a library or a daily newspaper either.

Tonia Looker was delightful as Clara, Paul Russell wonderfully boisterous as Fritz, Clytie Campbell and Qi Huan were dear parents. Brendan Bradshaw as a Young Doctor and Katie Hurst-Saxon as a Young Nurse gave an exquisite rendition of first love, cleverly choreographed into the Arabian dance. Jon Trimmer as busty Matron performing the Russian dance with Fritz, and a trio of Merlitons on crutches were further rib-tickling show-stoppers.  

One couple dancing high and swift, lost balance across two major lifting turns. Heart- stopping to see how they snatch themselves back from gravity (this is high-wire without a safety net) then embark courageously on the following lifts as though nothing had gone or ever would go wrong. It’s enough to reduce you to tears.

The printed programme is great fun, and will remind your children of what they saw. They will want to stage their own home version of some of it, and who knows where that will lead in the next generation. Bring it on.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council