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BrumHour saw The Nutcracker at the invite of Birmingham Royal Ballet.
By Duncan Walker twitter.com/DuncanWPhoto
Review: Birmingham Royal Ballet The Nutcracker 2023 at Birmingham Hippodrome
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”A wonderfully colourful fantasy world”
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Choreography by Peter Wright, Lev Ivanov and Vincent Redmon
Kicking off the festive season is Birmingham Royal Ballet’s performance of Sir Peter Wright’s The Nutcracker at Birmingham Hippodrome.
It is Christmas Eve, Clara (Beatrice Parma) and her family are hosting a gathering at their home. The guests dance and enjoy the evening, while Drosselmeyer, a magician (Rory Mackay) entertains the guests with magic and performers and gives gifts to the children. Clara is delighted with her gift of a wooden Nutcracker and after the gathering has ended and the guests have left, she sneaks downstairs to look for the Nutcracker doll. The clock strikes midnight, the rooms starts to grow and she is attacked by rats and The Rat King. The Nutcracker and toy soldiers spring to life to defend her, and as The Nutcracker becomes overpowered, the Rat King is defeated when Clara hits him with her shoe.
The Nutcracker becomes a handsome Prince (Mathias Dingman), and Drosselmeyer conjures up a series of magical fantasy lands where she meets dancers from many different lands, along with The Sugar Plum Fairy (Momoko Hirata) and The Snow Fairy (Yu Kurihara).
The narrative of The Nutcracker has been reworked, elevating Clara to a 15 year-old girl, giving Drosselmeyer a more central role, and returning to Lev Ivanov’s original choreography in many sections.
The Nutcracker was a stunning experience, bringing together of performers of all ages thanks to the support of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Dance Track, Elmhurst Ballet School and Royal Ballet Junior Associates.
The performance takes place amidst John Macfarlane’s spectacular scenery, with each act truly being a feast for the eyes. An extravagant parlour room with fireplace, furniture, staircase and a festive tree seamlessly morphed as Clara shrinks and we see the entrance of the Rat King. We were in awe of the snow-covered forest, a glorious winter wonderland complete with falling snow. The opening of the second act reveals a flying goose as Clara is transported to the Kingdom of Sweets, although soon after there appeared to be a technical issue and the performance was temporarily halted for a few minutes. Nevertheless, this didn’t detract from the rest of the performance.
Hats off to the costume designers and creators, (no pun intended), – the costumes were superbly crafted and defined each character throughout the ballet, from realistic-looking dancing rats to Russian Cossack dancers. Drosselmeyer’s cloak was a great example of costume and mobile set as he utilised its large, colourful expanse to guide and conceal characters during the performance.
Accompanying the performers on stage were the note-perfect and superbly talented Royal Ballet Sinfonia with guest conductor Thomas Jung.
This is a ballet for all ages and is entertaining on every level. If you want to be carried away into a wonderfully, colourful, fantasy world and forget the reality of life for a while, this is the show for you, don’t miss it.
The Nutcracker is at Birmingham Hippodrome with Birmingham Royal Ballet until 9th December 2023. Book tickets here: birminghamhippodrome.com/calendar/brb-nutcracker-23. Discover more about Birmingham Royal Ballet here: brb.org.uk.