The Nutcracker Review – Empire Theatre, Liverpool

The Nutcracker Varna
Image Source: ATG

This is our review of The Nutcracker at Liverpool’s Empire Theatre. So, let’s take a look at The Nutcracker!


The Nutcracker ballet tells a magical story through the Land of Snow. When midnight strikes on Christmas Eve, we’re swept away into a fairy tale world. Toys are brought to life while the Mouse King and his army battle with the Nutcracker Prince. Performed by the talented and critically acclaimed Varna International Ballet and Orchestra.


Varna International are renowned for its award-winning soloists and magnificent ballet. As their first visit to the UK, this performance was the last of a three-day run of different ballets at the Liverpool Empire. Audiences were excited to see what the company would produce, with some people attending all three performances.

The talent of the dancers on stage was undeniable. Each performer gave their all for every plie, arabesque, and sauter. It was clear to see that each person had taken the time to train excessively for each movement. Though the younger members of the ensemble were slightly out of time in some parts, the dedication they put into their craft is inspiring and they’re all thoroughly entertaining.

One particularly enjoyable moment was the final duet between the Nutcracker and Clara, the heroine of the story. The pair glide across the stage in a beautiful symphony of movements. Each lift is performed to look effortless and beautiful to behold.


Unfortunately, the acting quality wasn’t as high as the dancing. Over-exaggerated gestures and facial expressions made the performance awkward in some parts. For example, the beginning scene of the show involved the ensemble dancing around and partying. Some performers showed the pure joy of excitement on Christmas Eve with simple movements and beaming smiles. Meanwhile, others moved more erratically and mimed conversation to the level of those that have never acted before. This can be excused as the acting content is not what draws people to the ballet.

A highlight of the performance was the quality of the music from the orchestra. Each musician showcases their highly trained skills without missing a single note. The musical accompaniment was a joy to experience, though it was too quiet for a theatre as big as the Liverpool Empire. It became clear from the start of the production that the orchestra didn’t have microphones, which was a shame as the audience couldn’t fully appreciate the music’s beauty. This also meant that every cough and whispered conversation in the audience could be heard over the performance. Even the dancers’ footsteps were louder than some musical notes, ruining the immersion.


As a whole, the Varna International Ballet of the Nutcracker is a wonderful spectacle. The dancers and orchestra alike are talented in honing their craft and showcasing the beauty of ballet. Though the production has some downsides, it is still a performance worthy of a sell-out audience. If you’re looking for an introduction to ballet, this show is bound to take your interest.

Overall Rating: 6.5/10 – Okay