The Nutcracker and the Four Realms combines fantasies. The latest Disney extravaganza is fantastic — literally. The ballet most people know by Marius Petipa is based on a short story called The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, written by E.T.A. Hoffman. Both fantasies. Ashleigh Powell wrote a screenplay to expand those flights of fancy.
In her latest version, Clara, a clever girl, sidles into the Four Realms of imagination. She is hunting for a key to open a gift from her dead mother. At a holiday party thrown by her godfather, Drosselmeyer, she, like the other guests, had followed golden cords to the gift, only to have that gift, the key, stolen by a mouse, cuter than Mickey but still a rodent.
She enters the parallel universe where life moves more quickly and, there, she finds the Land of Snowflakes, the Land of Flowers, and the Land of Sweets. The fourth realm, ruled by the termagant Mother Ginger, is where Clara hopes to find the key.
What she finds is that she is her mother’s daughter, which makes her a princess as well as an engineer who can fix broken gears and cranks.
Starring as the wide-eyed, bright young woman is Mackenzie Foy, who carries herself well through the fantasy. She is supported by Matthew Macfadyen as her father and Jayden Fowora-Knight as the soldier Nutcracker. Morgan Freeman plays the kindly one-eyed Drosselmeyer, and Helen Mirren plays Mother Ginger. Keira Knightly is the Sugarplum Fairy, a better part for her than, say, Colette.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms offers spectacular special effects, awe-inspiring costumes, parades and displays, and the stunning ballet dancing of Misty Copeland to the tunes of Tchaikovsky. Still, one has to ask, did The Nutcracker deserve all this fantastic frou-frouing any more than Jane Austen deserved zombie-ing?
I’m Martha K. Baker. From the Grand Center Arts District, this is 88.1, KDHX, St. Louis.