Interview: Tony Mercer brings The Nutcracker on Ice back to the Royal Albert Hall

International ice dance sensations, The Imperial Ice Stars, make their triumphant return to the Royal Albert Hall this December for 12 performances of The Nutcracker on Ice.

The Imperial Ice Stars will dominate the 4000 square feet of ice at the picturesque venue, with skaters reaching breathtaking high speeds and performing awe-inspiring acrobatics. Combined with the enchanting story of The Nutcracker, it’s the perfect festive outing for the whole family.

The award-winning troupe has thrilled audiences across five continents during the last 10 years, with their adrenaline-rich performances receiving nightly standing ovations and outstanding international reviews the world over.

As if that wasn’t enough, they’ll be joined by a live orchestra, set against a backdrop of colourful projections, opulent costumes, magic tricks and special effects. 

Here, we meet Director Tony Mercer to get all the latest on the production and performing at the iconic London venue.

How did the first production of The Nutcracker on Ice originate?

“It originated from a conversation I had with James Cundell about wanting to create a specific Winter production and there is nothing as festive and warming as The Nutcracker on Ice. I wanted a production that was fully evocative of Christmas and of course The Nutcracker is synonymous with this! The Nutcracker also provides me with the perfect vehicle to build all the exquisite dance, daring acrobatics and stunning sets and costumes which the Imperial Ice Stars are renowned for.”

Nutcracker on Ice Ticketmaster interview

What do you think will be the biggest challenges of bringing the production to the Royal Albert Hall?

“There certainly are challenges to opening out the production to the magnificent arena of the Royal Albert Hall, but we rise to this in partnership with the Royal Albert Hall’s technical teams and Raymond Gubbay Ltd. We often perform in proscenium arch spaces, so we welcome the opportunities that arise from performing in a different space.  This will be our third visit and the company are looking forward to dancing to Tchaikovsky’s iconic score performed by a full orchestra.” 

What training and preparation have the dancers been through prior to joining The Imperial Ice Stars and performing in The Nutcracker on Ice?

“Many people in Russia start ice skating at the age of four or five and then those who really excel go on to take it up as a sport. As they have completed their sporting career having joined the Imperial Ice Stars, they will be technically excellent. It is then my job to bring out their performance skills during a six-month integration period upon joining The Imperial Ice Stars. I have just completed the auditions for The Nutcracker on Ice and started the rehearsal period. Every day of rehearsal starts with a mime and performance workshop, and then I go onto work on the dance sequences, building in all the wonderful lifts that you will see during the performance.”

Nutcracker on Ice Ticketmaster interview

Is there any difference in the audience reaction in the many countries the production has been performed in?

“We are fortunate to receive a warm reception wherever we tour, but it is always wonderful to perform in a country which has an understanding of the expertise and skill required of ice skating. For instance, Chinese audiences always warmly welcome us and it is always a great pleasure to perform in the United Kingdom, a country which of course has a strong tradition of ice dancing and, of course, in recent years with John Curry, Robin Cousins and Jayne Torvill and Chris Dean. We love the UK reaction to our performances!”

Catch The Nutcracker on Ice at the Royal Albert Hall between 28 December – 2 January, book now at