The History of Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker!


Matthew Bourne first staged his production of Nutcracker! in 1992 and this latest production is in celebration of its’ 30th anniversary. Originally an Opera North Centennial Production, programmed as a double bill alongside the Tchaikovsky opera Yolande, Matthew has since toured Nutcracker! several times – the last of which was seen 10 years ago. This latest production is his biggest and brightest to date.

Just like E.T.A Hoffman’s original tale – which inspired the very first ballet version by Marius Petipa & Lev Ivanov in 1892 – Nutcracker! is a tale of a young woman with a big heart and a big imagination. Matthew says, “Our version tells a simple story very, very clearly. It’s a wish-fulfilment story, a story with a heroine (Clara) who has a lot to overcome and who eventually wins through. It’s about growing up and first love and I think these are things everyone can relate to. I think this is why it remains so popular with all members of the family.”

2021/2022 REVAMP

Described by Lyndsey Winship, in the Guardian, on 16th December 2021, as a “pink, chewy fizz of a show”Nutcracker! is popular with audiences of all ages. It remains a relatable story of childhood imagination and daydreams and is set at everyone’s favourite time of year… Christmas! Filled with magical wonderlands and dancing sweets, it is a timeless classic and one of New Adventures’ best loved productions of all time.

The first time Matthew created Nutcracker! he worked alongside the original scenario written by Matthew and his collaborators Martin Duncan and Anthony Ward. This 30th anniversary tour stays close to its original in terms of the plot, storyline and characters, however it has been significantly refreshed in terms of the choreography, whilst Anthony has re-imagined his previous designs for the enigmatic costumes and set Matthew says, “…our aim was to take a fresh look at every aspect of the show whilst retaining the innocence and charm of the original production.”

A behind the scenes interview with Matthew Bourne discussing all things Nutcracker! From the first version at the Edinburgh Festival 30 years ago to the current reimagined production.

To hear Matthew Bourne talking about his career and the inspiration behind some of his shows, CLICK HERE.


The Orphanage in Matthew’s Bourne’s Nutcracker! is ‘Dickensian’ in nature and inspired by the Victorian era. Choose two completely different eras to stage each of the two acts. One could be set in prehistoric times, whilst the other is set in the next millennium – they do not have to be chronologically connected. Detail how these different time periods might alter the staging, design, character portrayal and even interpretation of the storyline within that act. Back up your suggestions with theories that support your ideas, such as an understanding of socio and economic considerations, the general mood of the time and – if it is set in the future – an insight into what life might be like.

Nutcracker! Behind The Scenes

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