The Nutcracker, Darrell’s single most enduring ballet, had an unusual start in life. In 1972, Act Two premiered in York, with Act One being added a year later, when the full show opened at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre.
From there it played to Christmas crowds on numerous occasions, delighting audiences with its colourful theatricality and intricate choreography. Finally in 1997, 10 years after Darrell’s death, The Nutcracker took an extended rest.
Christopher Hampson breathed new life into Darrell’s The Nutcracker when he revived it in 2012.
‘Peter’s The Nutcracker has seen this company through thick and thin, and when I looked at the production when I first arrived here, although I felt the staging was dated, the choreography is far from it – it’s beautiful.
‘So, I began to think about how we could present Peter’s choreography at its best for today’s audience – and the idea of having the production redesigned was born out of that.’ – Christopher Hampson
In 2021, subtle but important changes were made to the production, to the Chinese-inspired Tea Dance in particular.
Last performed: The Nutcracker was last performed in winter 2021-22. For current productions, visit our What’s On page.
Scottish Ballet premiere: 1973 (World Premiere)
Scottish Baller revival: 2012
Choreography: Peter Darrell
Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Original Set & Costume Design: Philip Prowse
Original Lighting: John B. Read
2012 revival Set & Costume Design: Lez Brotherston OBE
2012 revival Lighting: George Thomson
‘A very classy, impeccably Christmassy evening’s entertainment
‘For anyone who takes joy in good dancing, this is a delight
All Edinburgh Theatre
The Colonel and his wife are giving a party on Christmas Eve for their two children, Clara and Fritz. Friends and family arrive at the house including the children’s uncle and their eccentric old aunts, Angelina and Caterina. Soon the room is filled with delighted faces as the Christmas tree is revealed and the children receive their presents.
However, the mood is suddenly transformed with the arrival of Drosselmeyer – a mysterious magician – and three entertainers that have come to the party to perform for the children. Drosselmeyer has brought Clara a very special Christmas present: a strange nutcracker in the shape of a handsome Prince, which Clara immediately adores. Excitedly, the children dance round the room with their new toys, but Fritz breaks Clara’s nutcracker. An uncle quickly mends it, and Clara wipes away her tears.
After the party, the servants dim the lights and put out the candles on the Christmas tree, plunging the room into an eerie darkness.
Unable to sleep, Clara creeps back into the darkened room to find her nutcracker. She falls asleep on the floor, clutching the nutcracker in her arms. As the clock chimes midnight, Clara wakes with a start to find giant mice running around her. Drosselmeyer mysteriously reappears and transforms Clara’s nutcracker into a real live handsome prince, who leads the toy soldiers into battle with the mice and their leader, the evil King Rat.
Clara strikes a fatal blow to King Rat and the battle is won. As a reward, Drosselmeyer sends Clara and the Prince on a wonderful journey. They travel to an enchanting land of ice and snow, where they meet the beautiful Snow Queen and the Snowflake Fairies. The Prince dances with the Snow Queen and Clara is surrounded by the dancing Snowflake Fairies. The Snow Queen gives Clara her sleigh and everybody waves goodbye as her journey with the Prince continues.
Clara and her Prince are welcomed to the colourful Land of Sweets by the Sugar Plum Fairy who commands entertainment for her special guests. A non-stop banquet of dances begins, representing sweets from around the world. The entertainment comes to a close with a delightful Waltz, followed by a spectacular grand pas de deux danced by the Nutcracker Prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy. Finally, all the entertainers bid Clara farewell as she slowly drifts to sleep.
The Land of Sweets miraculously transforms back to the familiar drawing room where Clara’s parents find her asleep on the floor, still clutching her nutcracker doll. The Colonel lifts her in his arms and carries her back to her bed when, out of the blue, Drosselmeyer appears. Was this all a dream, did it really happen, or was it simply another of Drosselmeyer’s conjuring tricks?