The Nutcracker Ballet at Birmingham Hippodrome Review

The Nutcracker Ballet at Birmingham Hippodrome Review

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Posted 2023-11-19 by Alison in Birmingham follow

Fri 17 Nov 2023 - Sat 09 Dec 2023



What is Christmas without Birmingham Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker? Sir Peter Wright’s version of Tchaikovsky's timeless classic at Birmingham Hippodrome feels like the quintessential start to the festive season.

The Nutcracker has all the main ingredients sprinkled into a bowl of delights, mixed with a flurry of snowflakes. As the Royal Ballet Sinfonia exquisitely builds the tempo, the anticipation is palpable for the curtain to rise up - and the big reveal doesn’t disappoint.

It opens with the stage set for a lavish party fit for a prince with our young heroine, Clara. The world premiere of this production was back in 29 December 1990 at Birmingham Hippodrome so being steeped in tradition, will this ballet still be fit for a modern-day audience over 30 years on?

The Nutcracker is on at Birmingham Hippodrome from November 17 until December 9. I was honoured to delve into Clara’s wildest dreams on opening night, which despite a few technical hiccups and missed trains, the night was a memorable journey to the Land of Snow.



Clara's mystical uncle Drosselmeyer entertained with an equal sense of wonder and edgy trepidation for all ages, even the youngest members of the audience were thrilled. Thanks to last year’s £1 million refurbishment, the set is resplendent in opulent reds by John Macfarlane, to match Clara’s mother’s (Daria Stanciulescu) ruffled attire with gloves to match.

The Edwardian house party brings joy to all when magician Drosselmeyer (Rory MacKay) and his assistant (Gus Payne) wow young and old with a dancing Jack-in-the-box (Eric Pinto Cata) and numerous tricks up their sleeves. There's even a wooden nutcracker doll, which has its head pulled off by Clara's mischievous brother Fritz (Matthew Titley), only for it to miraculously mend itself, a huge relief to Clara (Beatrice Parma).

David Finn’s lighting effects see the gigantic Christmas Tree alight with candles and a creepy atmosphere as the clock strikes midnight. While most are tucked up in bed, Clara sneaks downstairs to be shrunk in the most spectacular transformation scene you're likely to ever see in a theatre. As the tree grows, the fireplace rotates and releases an army of rats who are then defeated by a box full of toy soldiers and a shoe.

As if that wasn't dramatic enough, the piece de resistance of the first act is yet to come. The majesty of the Snow Fairy (Yu Kurihara) and her attendants (Rosanna Ely, Reina Fuchigami, Sofia Linares, Emma Price) and wonderful winds (Ryan Felix, Haoliang Feng, Miles Gilliver, Riku Ito) are a majestic blizzard of ballottes and pirouettes.



The second act opens in equally stunning fashion as Clara flies across the stage on the back of a giant, white goose to meet dancers from far flung corners of the earth. The dances from Spain, Arabia, China and Russia allow Clara to not only be the observer but to get involved in joyous fun.

Magician Drosselmeyer is back and continues to wow. One of my favourites was definitely the Arabian mystique (Yaoqian Shang, Gabriel Anderson, Jack Easton, August Generalli), who effortlessly lift Shang high over their heads.

Before the dream must end and Clara wakes, there is just enough time for the Waltz of the Flowers with the Rose Fairy (Miki Mizuntani) and the grand pas de deux with the elegant Sugar Plum Fairy (Momoko Hirata) and her Prince (Mathias Dingman).

It's simply stunning in every way. This ballet does stand the test of time. One thing is for sure, Christmas in Birmingham has officially arrived in perfect style with The Nutcracker.

Star rating: 5/5

Tickets cost from £25. For tickets and more information on Birmingham Royal Ballet's The Nutcracker, visit Birmingham Hippodrome website here .

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270796 - 2023-11-19 18:21:22

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