Enter a magical wonderland with New Theatre Royal's latest Christmas musical

(l-r) Samuel Bailey as Ivanov, Hollie Smith-Nelson as Petipa and Neil Jennings as the Mouse King. Picture: Sarah Standing (090919-5274)
(l-r) Samuel Bailey as Ivanov, Hollie Smith-Nelson as Petipa and Neil Jennings as the Mouse King. Picture: Sarah Standing (090919-5274)
Share this article

PREPARE to enter the magical winter wonderland world of the sugar plum fairy, fantastic and  toys in New Theatre Royal’s Christmas family musical – The Nutcracker.

The leads gathered at the Guildhall Walk theatre for the show’s launch, showing off their elaborate costumes – created by designer Naomi Gibbs – for the first time.

Sarah-Faith Brown as Sugar Plum Fairy and Kurt Kansley as Drosselmeyer and Mother Ginger. Picture: Sarah Standing (090919-5287)

Sarah-Faith Brown as Sugar Plum Fairy and Kurt Kansley as Drosselmeyer and Mother Ginger. Picture: Sarah Standing (090919-5287)

It will be the Portsmouth venue’s third consecutive in-house Christmas show, and they hope to build on the success of Beauty and The Beast and last year’s Peter Pan.

Scott Ramsay, director of New Theatre Royal, said: ‘It’s unbelievable that it’s not really been done before as a Christmas show. 

‘It’s perfect because it feels familiar, but it’s also new. The books were written in the 1800s and they’ve been turned into a ballet, obviously, and also several film versions, but it’s such a strong story for a musical production and we’re looking forward to surprising the audience.’

Samuel Bailey played the title role of last year’s Peter Pan, and he returns this year as Ivanov. Recalling last year, he said: ‘I loved it, I loved the theatre, the cast and everything about it and I love Portsmouth, so I thought, why not come back?’

Shaun Mendum as the Nutcracker Prince and Caitlin Anderson as Clara. Picture: Sarah Standing (090919-5261)

Shaun Mendum as the Nutcracker Prince and Caitlin Anderson as Clara. Picture: Sarah Standing (090919-5261)

But for the rest of the cast, it will be their first time performing in Portsmouth. For some, the launch was the first time even in the city as they auditioned in London.

While many in the cast are seasoned pantomime and Christmas show performers, for Hollie Smith-Nelson, as Petipa, it will be her first. She graduated from Bird College in London this summer.

'This is only my second job out of college. I loved the audition process, I don’t think I’ve had a nicer audition before with such an encouraging panel, they really wanted you to do well.’

Neil Jennings plays the villain of the piece, The Mouse King. He said: ‘To do a good Christmas story in which you get to play the bad guy, is an amazing feeling – the bad guys always have more fun.’

Shaun Mendum is Peter, the Nutcracker Prince, and he said: ‘It’s a story of magic and friendship, and there’s a bit of romance in there as well. 

‘There’s something in there for everyone, it’s a really nice family adventure.’

Tickets range in price from £10 to £29 depending on the performance. The show will run from December 13-31. For more information go to newtheatreroyal.com