Much like when Keith Chegwin presented Channel 5’s game show ‘Naked Jungle’ entirely starkers in 2000, the actor and TV personality has placed his nuts on the line yet again after agreeing to perform with The Imperial Ice Stars in ‘The Nutcracker on Ice’.
This time, thankfully, he’s fully clothed, although he’s at clear risk of bruising a lot more than just his pride. On the night I saw it someone accidentally let go of his rope harness and he was dropped from on high before being caught two feet above the stage and left to dangle.
Chegwin’s recent appearance on TV’s ‘Dancing on Ice’ means he’s an audience draw but that doesn’t get round the fact that Cheggers has all the grace and balance of the newly born Bambi. This is probably why choreographer and artistic director Tony Mercer has Chegwin regularly flying through the air rather than on stage with his ‘Dancing on Ice’ co-star Olga Sharutenko helping him along.
Chegwin plays Herr Drosselmeyer, a mysterious figure who, in the Imperial Ice Stars’s version of Tchaikovsky’s 1892 ballet, arrives at Dr Pavlov’s Christmas party and gives his daughter an enchanted gift. Of course, Chegwin is about as mysterious as a kitten: his TV personality smile beams over at the dancers and the audience whenever he’s on. He’s quite clearly having a wonderful time.
The same can’t be said of those of us in the audience. This is a night of almost excruciating un-subtlety. The sets are brash and simple, the costumes eye-wateringly luminous. The first half – with its many characters all vying for a bit of stage time – is too busy and vague and the choreography is lacklustre.
The second half is better, as room is made for the Ice Stars to perform some longer double-acts both on their skates and in the air. But in the end, the Arabian dance by Fiona Kirk and Volodymyr Khodakivskyy is pretty much the only part of the show which delivers the wow-factor you’d hope for.
By Daisy Bowie-Sell