Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! - Birmingham Hippodrome Review

Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! - Birmingham Hippodrome Review

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Posted 2022-02-09 by Alison in Birmingham follow

Tue 08 Feb 2022 - Sat 12 Feb 2022

Injecting a sweet dose of humour and creativity to the traditional Tchaikovsky Nutcracker ballet is this vibrant offering from master choreographer Matthew Bourne. But as it celebrates 30 years since its launch, will it have stood the test of time?



Famous for stage productions from the all-male Swan Lake to The Red Shoes and Mary Poppins, Bourne uses wit, fashion and glamorous scenes with hints of the movies to always bring something new to audiences.

Nutcracker! was one of Bourne's early hits and makes a return to Birmingham Hippodrome from February 8 to 12.

Transforming the traditional ballet into a fun, witty modern dance, it's the Nutcracker, but not as you know it.

For a start, there's no nutcracker but a ventriloquist doll instead, which fits into this 1950s-esque era setting.

Instead of a family Christmas party, it opens with young Clara spending a darkly comic Christmas Eve in the grey, grim surroundings of Dr Dross' Orphanage. Dr Dross looking more like something out of 'Allo' Allo in a long black leather coat and whip. His two menacing children Sugar and Fritz steal the show, as Bourne's baddies always do.

From here, Clara is whisked off to a fantasy land of ice skating, a Sweetieland full of delicious characters(literally) and wedding scene with a huge cake for a backdrop.



The vibrancy of the set pops out of the stage with neon pinks, polka dot dresses and gorgeous costumes depicting a bouncer as a humbug sweet, dancers as liquorice allsorts and a Knickerbocker Glory that smokes while he cavorts across stage trying to seduce Clara.

While the scenes and sets may be very different, the one thing the same is Tchaikovsky'scintillating soundtrack.

Bourne said he has re-choreographed and rethought many aspects of the show and you can tell as it feels even fresher and funnier.

In fact, it often feels like you have walked straight into a teenage girl's fantasy of topless boys, shades of pink, cupids firing arrows and huge mounds of cake.

The ice-skating winter wonderland scene instead of a dance of snowflakes is wonderfully clever, looking like it is from a lavish Hollywood musical of the 1930's starring Sonja Henie. The movement of the dancers is beautifully choreographed.



But Bourne's young and talented New Adventures company do justice to the quirky and character-led choreography throughout.

There's a lot of lip-licking that fits in with the sugar and sweet theme too.

Marshmallow girls (replacing sugar plum fairies) seem more like the Kardashians on a hen night while yobby gobstopper boys lurch around instead of the Russian dancers in this updated version.

It all helps the ballet shy away from what have more recently become problematic national dances associated with outdated stereotypes.

All in all, it's more clever, exhilarating and enchanting fun from the country's top dance choreographer of his generation.

This alternative Nutcracker is totally delicious fun and just gets better with age.

Rating : & #9733 ;& #9733 ;& #9733 ;& #9733 ;& #9734 ;

#ballet
#birmingham_city_centre
#central_birmingham
#dancing
#theatre
#theatre -reviews
#theatres
#february
!date 08/02/2022 -- 12/02/2022
%wnbirmingham
70609 - 2023-01-26 01:48:07

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