A woman dressed in white with a puffer jacket and earmuffs throwing snow confetti onstage from a silver bucket.

Nutcracker at the Tuff Nutt Jazz Club: Setting off Christmas with a bang!

It was an absolute pleasure to be entertained by The McOnie Company’s wonderful jazz adaptation of the all-time Christmas classic the Nutcracker.

This unique and contemporary twist on Tchaikovsky’s festive ballet was joyous, sparkling and enough to put anyone in the Christmas spirit. 

Olivier award-winning director and choreographer Drew McOnie is the mastermind behind this modern sensation which explores an array of societal themes including toxic masculinity, self-acceptance and the celebration and embracement of each others’ differences. 

For the adaptation, the ballet’s protagonist ‘Clara’ has been transformed into a young boy called Clive who was performed on the night by the fabulous Mark Samaras.

Mark Samaras in the McOnie Company’s NUTCRACKER. Photo Mark Senior

Samaras breathed life into the reimagined character who felt unaccepted in a changing world.

The strength and fluidity through which he moved was breathtakingly beautiful and captured the attention of the small and intimate audience at the Tuff Nutt Jazz Club.

Alongside Samaras, Patricia Zhou mesmerised the spectators with her magical performance as the Sugar Plum.

Patricia Zhou in the McOnie Company’s NUTCRACKER. Photo Mark Senior

The renowned Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy music score seemed as if it could have been made for jazz as Zhou captivated the audience with her grace and moved as one with the composition.

In McOnie’s adaptation, the beloved Nutcracker character is now an Action Man played by the brilliant Amonik Melaco – who wore khaki trousers with bright green braces and moved with the athleticism of a real action figure brought to life. 

Amonik Melaco and Mark Samaras in the McOnie Company’s NUTCRACKER. Photo Mark Senior

The cosy Tuff Nutt Jazz Club venue, designed by Soutra Gilmour, provided the audience with an up close and personal experience where many on the front row were brushed with sequins and confetti.

Even the jazz band were fully visible in their long sleeve linen pyjamas, perfectly fitting the festive atmosphere of the performance as they played the smooth, sultry tones of Cassie Kinoshi’s reimagined score. 

Although it was a small production it spoke volumes for those who may feel othered by society and want to break free from tradition.

Nutcracker is the perfect early Christmas present, wrapped up in sequins and sparkles – with a few surprises along the way. 

Featured Image: Rachel Muldoon in the McOnie Company’s Nutcracker. Photo by Mark Senior

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