Centre Stage School Of Dance provided much-needed family entertainment at Garter Lane Arts Centre during the cold spell, with a beautiful Nutcracker Ballet. Edel Quinlan, the Artistic Director and Choreographer, enhanced her growing reputation with a beautifully costumed and skilfully directed production that enabled her young pupils to shine in a series of excellent dance tableaux.

To Tchaikovsky’s wonderful music, the much loved story took on new wonder at Garter Lane, with the apt use of fine projected images and an Alan Quinlan devised soundtrack.

Andy and Ann Comerford, as the Stahlbaums, welcomed the children to exchange gifts under the Christmas Tree and the strange Drosselmeyer (James McDermott) unveiled his curious mechanical dolls and the Nutcracker doll who magicked into a Prince.

The young Clara (Lauryn Kirwan) fights with her brother Fritz, played by a frisky Robert Skilton. Michael Doyle was a fine Nutcracker Prince and the Mechanical Dolls were Meabh O’Mahony, Niamh Conway and Rebecca Dineen. Eavan Trainor and Tara Winter were spirited Harlequin Dolls, with Alannah Owens and Emma Cooper as The Soldiers.

Emily Skilton was an excellent Mouse King. I particularly liked the Party Boys so well played by Robert Skilton, Jack Queally, Chris O’Neill, Robert Pim, Robert Moore, Nathaniel Davin and Gearoid Murphy.

The second act was amazing with a series of excellent performances in the various dance routines that develop the complex story.

Ailbhe Conway shone as the Snowflake Queen and Alana Williams was excellent as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Eimear O’Shea and Anna McSweeney added great humour as Spanish Dolls as did Rebecca Kavanagh, Alex Brennan and Jennifer Skilton as Russian Dolls. Lucy Johnson was a fine expressive Arabian Doll and Anna Johnson delighted the audience as Little Bo Peep. Saoirse Finn was notable as a Chinese Doll and Aoife Bourke revelled in the role of Mother Ginger.

Brona Rooney and Ciara Moore shone as Lead Flowers.

Highlight of this production was a memorable Waltz Of The Snow Flakes where all the elements came together in a fluid expressive dance.

Lorna Lyons was a suitable Clara and her dances with Michael Doyle were exciting to watch.

Tom and Fiona O’Neill built and designed the fine set and wonderful sled. Michael Oates lighting design was beautiful and atmospheric.