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Updated festive magic with the return to Eden Court this week of Scottish Ballet's The Nutcracker

By Margaret Chrystall

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The magic of traditional ballet The Nutcracker returns to Eden Court this week with Scottish Ballet’s modern twists – and some updates.

Marge Hendrick as Sugar Plum Fairy, Evan Loudon as Nutcracker Prince, set against some of the 4,5000 baubles in the colourful backdrop to The Nutcracker, at Eden Court till Saturday. Picture: Andy Ross
Marge Hendrick as Sugar Plum Fairy, Evan Loudon as Nutcracker Prince, set against some of the 4,5000 baubles in the colourful backdrop to The Nutcracker, at Eden Court till Saturday. Picture: Andy Ross

“We’re thrilled to be back on the road to Inverness with the rest of our tour of The Nutcracker,” said artistic director and CEO of the company, Christopher Hampson.

“Our last performance was on Christmas Eve in Edinburgh, so we’re especially pleased to be getting back on stage for audiences at Eden Court.

“I’m sure after all we’ve been through, our Highland audiences will be ready for the warm winter cheer that The Nutcracker brings.”

Ava-Lily Reid from Aberdeen will be playing Clara who finds a magical world coming alive in The Nutcracker which continues until Saturday in Eden Court’s Empire Theatre.

The children in the show are all from Aberdeen – which unfortunately saw its scheduled performances before Christmas cancelled due to Covid restrictions.

Many have family and friends travelling through from Aberdeen for the show.

The Nutcracker takes audiences on a journey through the worlds of a child’s imagination.

As Clara drifts off to sleep on Christmas Eve, she meets the dashing Nutcracker Prince, fights off the larger-than-life Rat King, and is welcomed into the Land of Sweets by the enchanting Sugar Plum Fairy.

The much-loved Tchaikovsky score will be performed live by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra.

Originally choreographed by Scottish Ballet founder Peter Darrell in 1972, Scottish Ballet’s The Nutcracker was re-imagined in 2014 by artistic director Christopher Hampson, working with multi-award-winning designer Lez Brotherson.

It includes scenes such as on-stage snow, a whirling Victorian Christmas party, and a duet in front of a wall of 4,500 gleaming baubles.

Clara surrounded by the cast of Scottish Ballet's The Nutcracker. Picture: Andy Ross
Clara surrounded by the cast of Scottish Ballet's The Nutcracker. Picture: Andy Ross

And this production includes the company’s sustained commitment to drive anti-racism in ballet, and to ensure it remains relevant today and for the future.

So Scottish Ballet has made subtle but important changes to some of the characters, costumes and choreography.

After ongoing consulting, the Chinese and Arabian-inspired Land of Sweets has had elements of caricature removed and now better represents the culture and traditions which have inspired them. Also the magician Drosselmeyer is played by both male and female dancers.

This production featured the full Scottish Ballet company and orchestra alongside ballet students in training from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, as well as children drawn from across Scotland.

Christopher Hampson, said: “The Nutcracker holds such a special place in our Christmas traditions, and we are delighted to be able to share this magical production again and create new memories for our audiences. This tour will be particularly special as we are re-joined by our wonderful Scottish Ballet Orchestra at long last.

"I am grateful for the support of the Peter Darrell Trust in ensuring that we keep this production alive and relevant for all our audiences, now and in the future.”

Plans for later in the year include:

April/May 2022: the world premiere of The Scandal At Mayerling tours to major venues in Scotland, four performances at Eden Court, Inverness, from Thursday, April 21-Saturday 23; His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen, from Thursday, May 5-Saturday 7 May. Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s iconic ballet, which depicts shocking real events from 1889 and was boldly created in 1977, is reimagined and redesigned in 2022 by Scottish Ballet.

May 2022: Scottish Ballet Health presents Moving Minds, Scotland’s first major conference examining the connections between mental health, wellbeing and dance for young people.

June 2022: The Crucible has its London premiere at Sadler’s Wells.

August/Autumn 2022: a new Edinburgh International Festival commission, Coppélia, created by award-winning dance film makers Jess & Morgs (The Secret Theatre) will have its world premiere, followed by a national tour (no dates for Inverness or Aberdeen confirmed yet).

Nov 2022-Jan 2023: The Snow Queen makes her spectacular, glittering return to Scottish stages, following 2019’s sellout tour. It will be back at His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen, from Wednesday, January 18-Saturday, 21 January 2023. And it will be at Eden Court from Wednesday, January 25-Saturday, January 28 2023!

Info on tickets for this week's Nutcracker – which has six performances, including two matinees, between Wednesday (tonight) at 7.30pm and Saturday, January 29 – here: eden-court.co.uk

There will also be two pre-performance talks at 6.30pm on both Thursday and Friday, a Stage Secrets event on Saturday at 11.30pm, and an audio-described performance at 2.30pm on Saturday.

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