December 18th, 2011

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Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker!, Sadler's Wells

I saw this on Thursday. I have seen it before in previous years when it has been on (I am a HUGE Matthew Bourne fan and I go and see all his shows whenever they are on). This is by far and away my favourite version of The Nutcracker, and The Nutcracker is one of my favourite ballets.

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When I first saw this production, it blew me away. When I see the production now, it still blows me away.

The Nutcracker is perfect for Christmas and is a great family show. This version will appeal equally to girls and boys. It might even inspire boys to get into dance.

It is highly imaginative and is a fresh new take on an age old ballet (for example what they do with all the dances in the second half is completely different, new and innovative). The dancing is outstanding. The costumes and the set are colourful, larger than life, and imprint themselves firmly on your memory. It is funny and quirky - very Alice in Wonderland. It has a strong narrative running right the way through it. It covers good and evil. It is heartfelt and touching. And last but not least, it has a happy ending.

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There are many many many Nutcrackers in town at the moment (I stupidly went to see the new version over at the Coliseum a couple of weeks ago too).

What I would say is this ...
Why when this version is in town, playing at Sadlers Wells, where all the seats have a fantastic view of the stage, and where the prices are good value-for-money, where your children will be transported to a magical land and have their imaginations fired to the maximum for life, would you go and see any other version?

Highly highly highly recommended.

Cut and pasted from the Sadler's Wells website:

One of the most popular dance productions ever staged in the UK, Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker! returns to Sadler’s Wells this Christmas to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Nutcracker! follows Clara’s bittersweet journey from a hilariously bleak Christmas Eve at Dr. Dross’ Orphanage, through a shimmering, ice-skating winter wonderland to the scrumptious candy kingdom of Sweetieland.

Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! is playing at Sadler's Wells from 6 Dec 2011 to 22 Jan 2012. For more information and to book tickets follow the link:
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Wreckers: Short Write-Up of Q&A Session

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I was at the Q&A session, following the screening of Wreckers at the Curzon Soho tonight. The panel consisted of the Director and Writer (D R Hood), and the actors, Benedict Cumberbatch and Shaun Evans, who play the two brothers, David and Nick, in the film.

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This is a very high level summary of the discussion:
- The script took 3 years to write on and off; done in bursts; starting with an outline and then working it up
- There were two endings - one happy and one horrible; in the end they cut both the closed endings and left it open; the audience can write their own ending, based on what they have seen and what they bring to the piece
- Nick coming back from the war was the starting point; Dawn was the lens through which the story was told; David was originally a peripheral character in the background; it was only when David became Dawn's husband that everything fell into place
- David was from a "dysfunctional abusive home" with a violent streak
- Nick was the only innocent in the film
- David was both protecting his brother Nick and controlling him
- All of the three main characters (David, Nick and Dawn) are outsiders in the village
- The film conveyed "fragments of memories"
- The film was told from Dawn's perspective; the story was told through her eyes and were her memories eg you often see her in the background, watching and listening to the two brothers, and all you as the audience hear are snippets of the brothers' conversation, just as she would hear
- "Room for interpretation" and a lot was "left to the imagination" - both of the actors and the audience (eg me and yvaine24 had a completely different take on what happened to Nick at the end). As actors, they were given the basic story and were improvising around that; there was a very collaborative way of working between the Director and the actors on the film
- It was better not to explain certain things; things were best left to the audience's imagination; it was for the audience to interpret what was going on; each audience member will being their own "baggage" and so will interpret the story and the film in a different way

My feature on Wreckers is here:
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Last week, I awarded the Glitterball a week early to Harry. This week, as tipped by yours truly, Harry took home the Glitterball ... CONGRATULATIONS HARRY!

The second half of the show:
American Smooth - This was to die for. So romantic and breathtakingly beautiful.
Argentine Tango - Harry and Aliona set the dancefloor on FIRE with the intensity of their passion.

The Nation fell in love with Harry over the course of the series - so did I. Why women fell for Harry was not just his sensational dancing skills. It was the fact that he appeared to be such a genuine, kind and decent person, very humble; just a very sweet person.

I must also mention how great it was to see Harry's bandmates supporting him, week in and week out, and going all out for him. I just LOVED the exuberance with which they all rushed onto the dancefloor at the end of this week's final to congratulate both Harry and Aliona.

Photos will be up on this site tomorrow but, in the meantime, follow the link to the official BBC website:

And I am officially crowning Strictly - THE BEST LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAMME ON THE BOX!
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Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

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One of my favourite hymns of all time, sung this week at All Souls:

Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

1. Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new born King,
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!"
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
with th' angelic host proclaim,
"Christ is born in Bethlehem!"
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new born King!"

2. Christ, by highest heaven adored;
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
late in time behold him come,
offspring of a virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail th' incarnate Deity,
pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new born King!"

3. Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new born King!"

Text: Charles Wesley, 1707-1788