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Cardiff Castle Christmas Spectacular takes on a classic
Something even more festive has sprung up in Cardiff Castle this year.
The Cardiff Castle Christmas Festival is a spectacular new event staged inside a unique venue on the grounds of Cardiff Castle, adding another festive attraction to Wales' capital city.
Three incredible shows will offer something for everyone – Santa’s Wish, Castellana, and The Nutcracker – and will be performed in the round, in the warmth and intimacy of a 548-seat Spiegeltent, transporting audiences to a nostalgic and magical world. There are three magical shows to catch.
Opening last night on 25th November with The Nutcracker a contemporary ballet version of the classic with a Welsh twist. This highly acclaimed full-length contemporary ballet of The Nutcracker is Wales' first reimagining of its kind, featuring a rich cast of recognisably Welsh characters, including Uncle Idris, Bopa Sheila & Bopa Linda, and The Mari Lwyd!
Audiences are invited for a magical ride through the William's Family Christmas. As we are taken into the dream world of our lead protagonist, Carys, her Uncle Idris will conjure up a battle, a snowstorm, and his very own variety show, The Uncle Idris Show!
The show works perfectly in the tent/Cabaret setting and is the perfect length for families to introduce little ones to the world of dance and ballet. Mixing elements of the classic ballet choreography and staging with new takes, it’s a fun, fast-paced ballet.
The piece has been given a Welsh treatment with the incorporation of Uncle Idris’ Christmas Show and Cerys, replacing ‘Clara’ as the lead…and Bop Sheila and Bopa Linda. However, a show-stealing turn is the Mari Llwyd…until you’ve seen the Mari Llwyd do the contemporary dance, you didn’t know you needed it in your life. But it’s a true highlight of the piece, something quirky and particularly Welsh inserted into a classic. Zach Parkin makes the Mari Llwyd’s dance suitably mysterious and intriguing and while it sounds like an odd meeting of worlds, the strange mysticism of that Welsh tradition fits perfectly into this world.
The production also features the signature showpiece Snowflakes as seen at Cardiff's Platinum Jubilee celebrations and features choreographer Jamiel Laurence's unique take on dancing, tumbling, avalanching and flying snowballs! Owen Morris, Cameron Everitt, Luke Bafico, and Amber Howells are enchanting in this number which feels deliciously wintery.
The entire company of dancers is talented at their art form and full of personality. Cameron Everitt and Owen Morriss as Father/Grandfather at wit to each scene with their performance. While Ffion Elmer as Cerys is such an engaging and charismatic performer, it’s easy to be pulled into the world of her dreams. While Luke Bafico is a charismatic partner to Elmer as Fysil. Both are highly accomplished dancers, and watching them interpret Jamiel Lawrence’s choreography is a joy. Mention, too, must be made to Rebecca Long and Chloe Davies, whose double act as Teleri and Tegwin is scene-stealing. As is Amber Howells as Mother- pairs sensational dancing with pitch-perfect facial expressions to convey the story hilariously and engagingly.
The company is rounded out by young performers- in the form of young dancer Thea Martin- and more mature ones, including Sheila Williams and Linda Sims. Thea surely has a bright future in dance, and it’s a joy to see a young person loving what they do. Equally joyous is the inclusion of two more mature dancers in Williams and Sims, who have been dancing all their lives and show that age is no barrier to performance (and are hilarious with it).
For anyone unused to dance, this is a perfect introduction to the ability to story tell without words. The company is accomplished at using dance to convey emotion and narrative and take the audience along for the ride. This is a fresh take on a classic ballet, and one that will entertain and engage everyone who sees it.
The Nutcracker runs until 27th November tickets here.
For more on Cardiff Christmas Festival information here.