Review: The Nutcracker, The Birmingham Royal Ballet

PUBLISHED: 12:37 27 November 2017 | UPDATED: 12:42 27 November 2017

The Nutcracker, The Birmingham Royal Ballet

The Nutcracker, The Birmingham Royal Ballet

Archant

Bravo Birmingham Royal Ballet! Every bit as magical and Christmassy as you would want it to be, Emma Samms reviews the enchanting Nutcracker at the Birmingham Hippodrome

The Nutcracker has long been a Christmas staple. Most classical ballet companies take full advantage of this and schedule a production of Nutcracker every year. This is often someone’s first live ballet experience and if it’s not done right it could easily end up being the only one.

I’ve always felt the inherent flaw in Nutcracker is the disparity in its two acts. The first opens with a Christmas party and is bustling with action. Over-excited children, Christmas presents coming to life, dancing snow flakes, toy soldiers fighting with rats, so much going on you’re spoiled for choice. But the second act is merely a show within a show, for the entertainment of our heroine Clara, who watches various dancers from around the world perform for her. Essentially the narrative comes to a grinding halt.

Sir Peter Wright’s production does everything possible to ameliorate this. The first act is a spectacle of the most extraordinary order. The sets, the costumes, the lighting, the sheer volume of activity on the stage whisk you into a magical, Christmassy world the moment the curtain is lifted. The standard of all the performers, both young and old is exceptional and the night I was there, Karla Doorbar as Clara was perfection. As we followed her adventures that evening she presented an ingénue’s innocence underwritten with technical mastery, making her the best Clara I’ve ever seen.

The Nutcracker, The Birmingham Royal BalletThe Nutcracker, The Birmingham Royal Ballet

The set changes, warping perspective and transporting us under the Christmas tree and then into a snowy forest, all happened seamlessly in front of our eyes, so plaudits are due to John F. MacFarlane the designer and to the Stage Management team.

Rather than have Clara sit and watch an array of dancers in the second act, the traditional choreography has been enlivened in this production by having her join in, using Clara’s enthusiasm to help with the lack of a narrative.

The Nutcracker, The Birmingham Royal BalletThe Nutcracker, The Birmingham Royal Ballet

Special mention for the exquisite Celine Gittens as the Rose Fairy, obviously a master of the fouette and to Lachlan Monaghan and his impressive double tours en l’air.

This Nutcracker is every bit as magical and Christmassy as you would want it to be. Bravo Birmingham Royal Ballet!

The Birmingham Royal Ballet’s portrayal of The Nutcracker will run daily from Tuesday November 26 - Wednesday December 13 (excluding Mondays) at Birmingham Hippodrome. Click here for exact timings.

Book your tickets online here or call the box office on 0844 338 5000.

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