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The Nutcracker at Birmingham Hippodrome - Review

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by ABC Writer (subscribe)
Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
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Christmas Ballet Returns To Enchant
Year after year, The Nutcracker ballet created by Sir Peter Wright returns to Birmingham Hippodrome in the run up to Christmas and this year is no different.

The Nutcracker, Birmingham royal ballet, Birmingham Hippodrome
Adventure and romance in The Nutcracker

It's very much a case of if it ain't broke don't fix it for this superb Christmas spectacular family show by Birmingham Royal Ballet(BRB) that marks 29 years since its premiere.

While part of me does wonder whether it would be good for BRB to offer something different over Christmas occasionally, as soon as the Rat King appears, I'm gripped.

The Nutcracker is on at Birmingham Hippodrome this year from November 22 until December 14.

The Nutcracker, Birmingham royal ballet, Birmingham Hippodrome
The King Rat's appearance is very dramatic

The Nutcracker is such a crowd-pleaser as this famous ballet has it all, especially in this scintillating version by BRB.

First of all, there's the beautiful timeless music composed by Tchaikovsky; then there is the enchanting and often humorous choreography by Sir Peter Wright; and finally, there's breathtaking costumes and scenery enhanced by some lovely special effects.

Although almost 30 years old, the distinctive costumes and scenery alone are worth 2 million to the ballet company.

The Nutcracker, Birmingham royal ballet, Birmingham Hippodrome
Amazing scenery and costumes

The ballet opens with a grand family Christmas party around a huge decorated Christmas tree that can't help but make you feel festive.

Visiting magician Drosselmeyer adds some intrigue and when the daughter of the household, Clara, sneaks downstairs in the middle of the night, the action unfolds into another world at the stroke of midnight.

This is when the tree changes size and Clara is shrunk to the size of a rat - drawing gasps and cheers from the audience, especially as the Rat King emerges on stage.

All the magical ingredients of a fairytale are there. Dancing rats fight toy soldiers and there's fairies, snowflakes and the Sugar Plum Fairy.

The Nutcracker, Birmingham royal ballet, Birmingham Hippodrome
The ballet starts with a Christmas party

Clara's journey to meet the Snow Fairy (Samara Downs) and her attendants is one of the strongest scenes of the ballet that leads the audience into the interval with a smile. The dancers amid a snowstorm finale leave the stage looking like a giant glittering snowglobe.

There's no let up in Act Two as Clara flies in on a goose and meets a cavalcade of characters through their dances. There's quirky native dances from Spain, Arabia, China and Russia, accompanied by Tchaikovsky's instantly recognisable music.

The Nutcracker, Birmingham royal ballet, Birmingham Hippodrome
Breathtaking scenes that are synonymous with Christmas

Much of this year's ballet is performed by the same principal dancers as last year, so they know the roles well. Rising talent Brandon Lawrence comes in to play the Rat King this year, although you may not realise it in the huge costume and mask and it's good to see impressive Celine Gittens back as The Rose Fairy for the dreamy Waltz of the Flowers.

Enchanting scenes like this are why The Nutcracker is a perfect introduction to ballet for children, who will easily be caught up in the adventure, romance and enchantment of this ballet.

While there are some ways that the ballet could be updated slightly after nearly 30 years, like using better tricks for the magician at the party and more special effects, it does still have plenty of charm.

Birmingham Royal Ballet's The Nutcracker is truly enchanting and an experience that is the essence of Christmas. Catch it while you can.

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Why? See enchanting Christmas ballet
When: Until December 14, 2019
Phone: 0844 338 5000
Where: Birmingham Hippodrome, Hurst Street, Birmingham
Cost: From 21
Your Comment
It's been years and years since I saw a ballet. I'm sure everyone will loved this tried and true performance.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|9021) 671 days ago
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