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The Nutcracker by Birmingham Royal Ballet - Review

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
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Enchanting Ballet Returns For Christmas
Christmas in Birmingham has become synonymous with Russian ballet The Nutcracker. It returns this year, but does it still twinkle enough for the festive season?

Nutcracker ballet , Birmingham Royal ballet , Birmingham hippodrome
The enchanting world of the Nutcracker


Birmingham Royal Ballet's (BRB) production of The Nutcracker has become a traditional favourite at Birmingham Hippodrome, especially as it was created by one of Britain's best choreographers, Sir Peter Wright.

This year, it returns in the lead up to Christmas with performances between November 24 and December 13.

It's a short easy-to-follow ballet accompanied by Tchaikovsky's familiar, romantic sweeping music, which makes it perfect for newcomers to ballet and children.

What makes it more festive are the ingredients including fairies, snowflakes and a huge Christmas tree. Added to that are a cavalcade of colourful, lovable characters who bring dances from around the world to life.

Nutcracker ballet , Birmingham Royal ballet , Birmingham hippodrome
Action galore with rats and toy soldiers


The enchanting tale is set in the lavish early 1900s era where we find young girl Clara at her family's Christmas party and entertained by an intriguing magician.

The dances here are character-led with each member of the family from the naughty younger brother to hobbling grandmother providing laughs and charm. Max Blackwell playing Clara's brother Fritz is a joy while Karla Doorbar impresses as Clara.

As the clock strikes midnight, the magic begins with Clara swept into another world and reduced in size to a miniature character at the bottom of the Christmas tree where she meets an army of rats and toy soldiers, led by the heroic Nutcracker.

It never fails to amaze me how wonderful the special effects are in these scenes. Making the Christmas tree change in size and enlarging the fireplace for the dancing rats to make their stunning entrance is jaw-dropping, however many times you've seen this production.

Nutcracker ballet , Birmingham Royal ballet , Birmingham hippodrome
Fairies and snowstorms make it a festive treat


There's action, drama and scintillating music to come from the excellent Royal Ballet Sinfonia plus one of the most beautiful scenes in ballet to close the first act. This is when the Snow Fairy and her attendants dance amid a snowstorm. You'll be totally bewitched.

The second act focuses more heavily on the ballet than special effects with Clara meeting people from Spain, Arabia, Russia and the like who dance for her.

There's also an impressive routine from Celine Gittens as the Rose Fairy before a grand pas de deux by Momoko Hirata and Cesar Morales. They all make the difficult choreography by Sir Peter Wright look effortless and are real talents at BRB.

Nutcracker ballet , Birmingham Royal ballet , Birmingham hippodrome
The Russian dance is one of the popular sections in The Nutcracker


It's a big production that never fails to impress, particularly due to the gigantic sets designed by John Macfarlane that easily whisk you away from Birmingham into a fantasy world.

This year, the show didn't feel quite as slick as usual with a couple of minor slip-ups by dancers, but that said, it is still had the power to leave you impressed.

Birmingham Royal Ballet's divine Nutcracker production is one of the best festive treats Birmingham has to offer. If you can manage to get a ticket, make sure you enjoy this gift of a show.

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Why? Be enchanted by this Christmas ballet
When: Until December 13, 2017
Phone: 0844 338 5000
Where: Birmingham Hippodrome
Cost: From £19
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