THE NUTCRACKER – A Christmas Show for Kids
THE ORIGINAL STORY OF THE NUTCRACKER – an enchanting Christmas tale with musical accompaniment – is available for performance to groups of 30 – 60 children in primary schools.
Mike and Jennie Evans have developed a 40 min two-man show for primary schools. Jennie tells the exciting story of The Nutcracker accompanied by Mike performing a medley of Tchaikovsky’s brilliant tunes written for the Nutcracker ballet on solo fiddle. A slide show is also available which can be projected onto a white board to accompany the story telling. The show is suitable for Years 1 – 6.
Click on the link below to see a short series of taster excerpts from the show: -
The Nutcracker Storytelling Show brings Tchaikovsky's wonderful music into the classroom live and breathes new life into the original magical story.
The original story written in 1816 by Ernst Hoffmann is the very first children’s fantasy adventure. His depiction of a daring little girl’s magical journey into a fantasy world is the forerunner of many later similar tales. This story pre-dates Alice’s tumble down a rabbit hole into Wonderland by 50 years and Dorothy’s whirlwind trip to the Land of Oz by almost a century.
The performance brings a bygone age vividly to life, introducing kids to a world before cars, electricity and social media via this fantasy tale. It also gives them a taste of Tchaikovsky’s mouthwatering music. It is an intimate show that is particularly suited to small groups of children and can be repeated up to four times during a school day either to groups of children in their respective classrooms or to larger groups seated in the school hall.
For many families, The Nutcracker Ballet has an essential place in the annual Christmas calendar.
The story was written in 1816 – just one year after the epoch-making Battle of Waterloo, which changed the face of Europe. The clashing echoes of that epic conflict resound throughout this fantastic tale! Hoffman’s tale was translated into French and retold with a much lighter touch by Alexandre Dumas in 1844. This version became popular in Russia and was adapted to create the storyline for The Nutcracker Ballet, with music by Tchaikovsky, which was first performed in St Petersburg in 1892.
Looking closely at the various versions of the story, Jennie found it to be a surprisingly modern tale.
Clara’s prompt, fearless action during the fight between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King saves the day, completely overturning the stereotypically correct (for the period) “feminine” description of her at the outset as “quiet, sweet and loving”. In order to breathe fresh life into this ground-breaking tale 200 years later, she decided to write a new version of the story from brave little Clara’s point of view, so that the listener experiences the merry-go-round of the magical adventure with her.
Tchaikovsky condensed the best of the brilliantly evocative music he had written for the Nutcracker ballet into a 20-minute suite, which has since become world famous.
The marvellous music Tchaikovsky created for the Nutcracker ballet was written with movement firmly in mind. Petipa, the choreographer, gave him specific directions regarding animation and style. He wanted “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” to sound like drops of water splashing in a fountain. Mike has chosen excerpts from this feast of music to create a vivid musical backdrop to the storytelling.
Here is a selection of images from the accompanying slide show: -
A 40 min workshop is also available during which Mike and Jennie explain context of the story and the music.
The workshop introduces kids to the world as it was in 1816 in Germany. Christmas then was a time of log fires and candle light with sleigh rides in snow covered forests. Carved clocks and mechanical toys were very popular. The Nutcracker is explained and the significance of the Battle of Waterloo. The story itself is traced down the years from Germany, to France and finally to Russia where it provided the story-line for The Nutcracker Ballet.
A Teacher’s Resource document is also provided, with links to articles, pictures and videos, so that Curious Kids can find out more about how the story came about and be shown excerpts from the ballet that was developed from the story, accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s music in its full orchestral version. Download the Teacher’s Resource Doc here:
Additionally, a Feedback Questionnaire is also provided. It can be shown on a whiteboard and used as the basis for the 30 min evaluation session with the children after the performance. The feedback from these sessions is extremely valuable to us, as it helps us to improve the quality of the show. Download the Feedback Questionnaire here:
Read reviews of previous performances of the show: -
“The children were very enthused about what they saw and learnt. The way the story was complemented by the violin worked brilliantly.”
Claire Chantler (Executive Headmistress of Beckington C of E First School and Mells C of E First School, Somerset)
“The children were entranced throughout, and thoroughly enjoyed the whole performance. It was a lovely opportunity to experience traditional storytelling accompanied by Tchaikovsky on the violin.”
Jenny Corker (Year 1 teacher at Myatt Garden Primary School, Lewisham, London)
“I particularly enjoyed the live music that accompanied the storytelling. This really engaged the children, a couple of whom were excited to recognise some of the music! The whole class were really interested in the performance and spoke highly of it afterwards.”
Hannah Damart (Year 5 teacher at Myatt Garden Primary School, Lewisham, London)
“The expression modelled for the children was wonderful and helped them understand the different parts of the story. This was backed up by the music in pitch, dynamics and rhythm. All of the children really liked the way the performance fitted together.”
Sue Pons (Year 5 teacher at Myatt Garden Primary School, Lewisham, London)
Year One (5 – 6 years) – Myatt Garden
“I liked the music because it felt magical.” “I liked the bit about the sweety land.” “That story made me so happy!” “I liked the castle bit because I liked the swans.” “I liked the music because it was cool.”
Year Five (9 – 10 years) – Myatt Garden
“I really liked when the violin played really fast. I knew that meant action was happening.” “The voices in the story were really funny. I really liked being read to.” “I didn’t know what a nutcracker was before but I had heard the word. The show was really fun.” “They remembered so much! I wish I could put all of that in my head. They did really good voices for the different characters and I liked the violin too.”
The Nutcracker Storytelling Show can be performed in a covid secure manner.
Although there is a vaccine in the offing, the pandemic is far from over. When bringing the show into schools, the safety of the children and staff involved is our paramount concern. Copies of the present Nutcracker Covid School Visit Procedure and the Covid 19 School Visit Risk Assessment can be downloaded here:-
We will adapt these documents appropriately as the regulations change. We have our fingers and toes crossed that everything will be closer to the old normal by Christmas 2021!