Christmas Magic with The Nutcracker

Christmas really came to town in Birmingham on Friday with the opening night of The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky’s yuletide classic at the Birmingham Hippodrome.  A full house for the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production showed that this evergreen classic shows no sign of losing its ability to enchant, with this particular production stunning in both dance and visually through the incredible sets.

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The Nutcracker tells the story of a wonderful family Christmas Eve, with the initial scenes dominated by a wonderful Christmas tree. This is a picture box Victorian Christmas scene, one that could’ve come from a Christmas card, or the top of a quality street tin, the tableaux is so vivid and beautiful. A young girl, Clara beautifully danced with charm and innocence by Karla Doobar) is gifted a nutcracker doll, one that is then broken by her brother. The doll, however, seems to be a thing of magic, as proved when it is miraculously put back together, and when Clara creeps downstairs that same night to play with her new doll, she is suddenly transported to a world where Nutcracker dolls are real, rats are enormous and a Sugar Plum fairy proves to be the epitome of beauty and grace.

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Visually, this ballet is a feast for the eyes. The end of act 1, where Clara and her handsome Prince travel to the Land of Snow , is one of the most beautiful scenes I have seen in any ballet, with the Birmingham Hippodrome transformed into a winter wonderland with snow falling onto a stage full of silvery dancers and exquisite trees.  The second half starts with Clara flying across the stage on a white swan, a scene that is just magical, particularly for the younger members of the audience.

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The second scene is dominated by the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, with Momoko Hirata just so beautiful in this role. Her dance with the Prince is supremely romantic, and when, at the end of it, Clara finds herself back home, you find yourself wishing she could’ve stayed for just one more dance – you simply don’t want it to end.

Spellbinding magic for all the family. The Nutcracker is at the Birmingham Hippodrome until December 13. Click here for ticket information.

 

 

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty

The Birmingham Royal Ballet returned to Birmingham this week with a spellbinding performance of Sleeping Beauty. Transforming the Birmingham Hippodrome stage into a Georgian setting fit for royalty, the dancers of the BRB created a magical and enthralling fairy tale that had just the right amount of menace and spice.

We all know the story of the Princess Aurora, gifted every one of life’s advantages by a stream of beautiful fairies. This was represented in a series of solo dances representing modesty, honour, joy, and, of course, beauty. The mood is bright and beautiful, full of sparkle and light. Unfortunately, no one invited the dark Fairy, Carabosse, and so she invites herself along, determined to destroy the occasion by placing a death sentence on the infant Princess. The moment that Carabosse entered, as danced by the wonderful Nao Sakum , is one that will live in the memory for a long time. She is a remarkable presence, truly frightening in her manner, stance and exquisite black costume. Carried aloft by her bat-like attendants and accompanied by a roll of thunder, Carabosse is the embodiment of fairytale evil. I must admit, I loved her. It’s a bit of a paradox, but her dark blend of charisma lit up the stage every time she appeared.

But the evil of Carabosse had an stunning counterpoint in the Lilac Fairy. Jenna Roberts plays this beautiful enigma, the fairy who had yet to deliver her gift, which turns out to be the gift of life. The Lilac fairy looks so perfect, think Glinda in The Wizard of Oz, and dances with such lightness and elegance that you could not fail to be enchanted. The contrast between Sakumo and the Lilac Fairy is exquisite.

tumblr_m6yb36ANxk1rpvemio1_500 The second act introduces a grown up Aurora, one with suitors, who pirouette the Princess around like a ballerina in a jewel box during the famous Rose Adagio. Aurora is Momoko Hirata, who is everything the role requires. Tiny and beautiful and so charming in her movements and expressions, Hirata invests her character with joy and grace, she is simply a joy to watch. She shows incredible poise during the Rose Adagio, the pirouette is perfect in every way.

The spindle is not attached to a spinning wheel, but hidden in flowers, a neat touch which means all the palace get to see the Princess fall into her deep sleep. It is at this point that the amazing scenery really comes into its own, with layer upon layer of flora and fauna helping to hide and protect the enchanted palace.

Mathias Dingman is the suitably handsome Prince who comes to the rescue of the Sleeping Beauty, transfixed by the vision conjured up by the Lilac Fairy. Dingman is athletic and virile in the role of the handsome Prince, and his solo dances were perfect. His rescue of the Princess through the power of his kiss set us up for an unforgettable finale, one that shimmered and sparkled in a way that left the audience gasping at its sheer beauty.

This classic Peter Wright production continues to enchant new generations. The music of Tchaikovsky continues to soar. All in all, perfection.

An enchanting ballet for all the family.

Wed 14 – Sat 24 Feb

Click here for ticket information

The Nutcracker – Christmas Comes To Birmingham

The Birmingham Hippodrome was once again transformed into the epitome of Christmas as the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s classic production of The Nutcracker opened last night. The ballet is always seen as the opening of Christmas in Birmingham, and, once again, it’s charm, beauty and magic thrilled the sell out audience. The Nutcracker can be described in a single word- enchanting.

It is Christmas Eve and the Stahlbaum family are giving a party for family and friends. A magician Drosselmeyer is invited and gives the Stahlbaum’s oldest daughter Clara the gift of a Nutcracker. When the guests have departed, Clara creeps down to retrieve her Nutcracker (worried that her jealous younger brother will steal it maybe?), but as the clock strikes midnight the room seems to grow in size and become a strange, eerie place. Giant rats appear and attack Clara. She is rescued by her Nutcracker, who has magically come to life. This intervention leads to a night of magic as The Nutcracker is transformed into a handsome prince and he leads Clara into a land of snow and ice where she meets a whole host of dancers from different lands.

The company of The Nutcracker is simply wonderful. Karla Doorbar is a charming, lovely Clara, whilst Momoko Hirata is beautiful as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Cesar Morales is perfect as the Prince, a virile yet romantic lead who has a wonderful chemistry with Hirata. Other stand outs including the crowd pleasing Russian dancers (Max Maslen, Lachlan Monaghan and Gus Payne\) who’s energetic Cossack style dance is always a real favourite, particularly as it is performed to the part of Iiyich Tchaikovsky’s score that is instantly recognisable from fans of Home Alone.

The Nutcracker is an annual classic that never loses its charm and beauty and remains an unmissable part of the Birmingham Theatre calendar.

Simply Wonderful.

The Nutcracker

Birmingham Hippodrome

Saturday 25th – Wednesday 13th December

Click here for ticket information