The Nutcracker at Birmingham Hippodrome Review

The Nutcracker at Birmingham Hippodrome Review


Posted 2022-11-20 by Alison in Birmingham follow

Sat 19 Nov 2022 - Sat 10 Dec 2022

Birmingham Royal Ballet's The Nutcracker is a well-loved favourite and this year it's back with a refresh and some distinct changes to address murmurings of cultural appropriation. But will it affect the famed Sir Peter Wright production as we know it?

With its festive themes, snow scenes and dazzling Tchaikovsky soundtrack, The Nutcracker ballet is synonymous with Christmas. This year it is on at Birmingham Hippodrome from November 19 until December 10 and I caught it on opening night.

The Nutcracker feels brighter and refreshed as the dazzling sets by John Macfarlane have been refurbished thanks to donations to The Big Give. The rich reds of the scenery and glistening fantasy world stand out even more.

Carlos Acosta's influence as Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet(BRB) has already made an impact this year with earlier productions seeming sharper and more finely tuned. That continued into this festive show with pinpoint accuracy and a renewed confidence among the dancers.

Opening in an Edwardian house party, it brings the family spirit of the season with lighting of a huge Christmas tree, children dancing and the grandparents even getting up for a whirl. It's witty and character-led as the audience meets Clara, her naughty little brother and magician Drosselmeyer.

There's touches of magic that children will love before this gloriously sentimental section starts to turn darker at midnight. Clara sneaks downstairs to get the Nutcracker soldier, given to her by Drosselmeyer, from under the tree but is shrunk by the magician and transported to a fantasy world.

Clever staging as Clara ends up at the bottom of the tree and is greeted by the King Rat in the fireplace is incredible and I never get tired of seeing it. The action and music steps up a gear from here and there's plenty of familiar and dreamy tunes to come. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Waltz of the Flowers and Russian Dance.

Toy soldiers and the Nutcracker come to life for sword fights before Clara ends up around dancing snowflakes in the Land of Snow. A wondrous moment, danced impeccably by the large cast ahead of the Act One finale of falling snow.

Act Two begins with a bang as Clara arrives flying on a huge goose to meet people from various countries and see their dances - Arabians, Chinese, Spanish and more.

The Arabian dance used to have three male dancers carrying a female and was visually and choreographic ally stunning. This section generally in various ballet versions had been criticised for over-sexualising that culture and now BRB has a couple dancing instead. It's a sensuous and delightful routine but isn't as impressive as it was before.

The more welcome change is in The Chinese Dance where the original slapstick, pointy fingered old-fashioned routine and costumes has seemed uncomfortably inappropriate for a few years. To address this cultural appropriation, the choreography and costumes have been altered and is more acrobatic.

While, it was good to see The Russian Dance has remained in the current climate as the music and routine is particularly special, but this is a ballet by a Russian composer after all.

These all put a smile on the face but are pale in comparison with the uplifting Dance of the Mirlitons and exquisite pas de deux finale of majestic dancing between the Prince and Sugar Plum Fairy.

With one of the best soundtracks in the world and magical scenes and costumes, The Nutcracker is simply breathtaking from start to finish. It's the ultimate Christmas show. Catch it will you can.

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#theatre -reviews
!date 19/11/2022 -- 10/12/2022
70814 - 2023-01-26 01:49:34


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