My daughter and I joined other excited families this week at the preview for Lighthouse Immersive’s latest show, The Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle. It’s the first of their presentations to be directed toward a holiday audience, after producing editions based on the artworks of Vincent Van Gogh and Gustav Klimt (and, soon to come, Frida Kahlo).
The experience begins in the lobby, with the café and gift shop decked out for the holidays. A quick hot chocolate and festive photo opportunity is the perfect way to get in the Christmas spirit.
Next you enter a huge space with floor-to-ceiling screens on every wall, big enough to cover the show’s 500,000 cubic feet of projections. A raised platform stands in the middle of the room that offers viewers a 360-degree bird’s-eye vantage point. Furthermore, its walls are mirrored which is a particularly thoughtful idea so that the projections bounce off it to create an uninterrupted lightscape.
While many are familiar with the ballet and accompanying score by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, this version creates a hybrid of live-action ballet and animation. It includes live dancing by both kids from Toronto and professional ballet dancers from the famous Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.
The most notable difference between this experience and a traditional theatre-going one is that the audience is not stuck in a seat. For instance, we sat on the floor, a young couple snuggled up on a bench, a little girl danced along with the ballerina and a group of kids ran back and forth to the mirrored room under the observation area. Also, audience members are able to walk around the space to get different viewpoints. The interactive element makes for a refreshingly casual and easy-going atmosphere. Plus, it’s a good length for little ones with short attention spans.
Characters throwing snowballs out at the audience and projections spilling out onto the floor gives the presentation a three-dimensional feel. My daughter had fun trying to catch the snowflakes on the floor. Even more so, there’s an exciting seasonal surprise near the end that had all the kids squealing with delight!
Note: Mask-wearing is required throughout the event space and lobby. Visitors over 12 years old are required to present proof of vaccination in order to enter the venue and attend the exhibit. More information is available here.
The Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle
When: November 20 – December 30, 2021, Various Times
Where: 1 Yonge Street, Toronto
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