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.

 

 

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

 

The Nutcracker opens and we celebrate Sir Peter Wright’s 90th Birthday

What signals the start of Christmas to you? Putting up the decorations and the tree? Starting the shop for those special gifts? The Coca Cola advert on the TV (holidays are coming, holidays are coming…). Well for me, Christmas comes when I go to see The Nutcracker staged by the Birmingham Royal Ballet at the Birmingham Hippodrome.  Last night this was made even more special and unforgettable by being both the opening night and also being the 90th birthday of the legendary Sir Peter Wright, the genius behind The Nutcracker.  He chose to spend that special night in Birmingham, coming on stage for a standing ovation and a chorus of Happy Birthday. This was the perfect ending to what was, once again, a magical BRB night.

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Tchaikovsky’s classic Christmas tale of magic and mystery that takes place on Christmas Eve is a festive staple. And after taking a break last year for the marvellous, and sometimes hilarious Cinderella, The Nutcracker made a welcome return with what may be its most beautiful staging ever. The story is a simple one, the lovely Clara(Karla Doorbar) is given a special gift by the magician Drosselmeyer, a Nutcracker doll that she instantly falls in love with.  Creeping downstairs to retrieve the doll from under the Christmas tree, she is suddenly transported to a magical land, where the Nutcracker is alive, the rats are as big as people and there is a dancing Sugarplum fairy, a beautiful Snow Queen magical Spanish dancers, and a glorious flying swan to transport Clara through a snowy, wonderful wilderness.
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There is just so much to recommend The Nutcracker as the perfect Christmas viewing. From the moment the curtains open to reveal the enormous, and totally exquisite Christmas tree, the scene is set for a ballet that is a visually stunning feast for the eyes. The snowy winter wonderland scene is another standout, it actually brings a lump to the throat with its sheer loveliness.  The performances are excellent. Jonathan Payn makes an energetic and exciting Drosselmeyer, whilst Karla Doorbar, who is in virtually every scene as Clara, is more than up to the task, and is an enchanting presence. The always excellent Joseph Caley and Momoko Hirata, are fabulous of course, in the roles of The Prince and The Sugar Plum Fairy and a special mention must also go to Samara Downs as the Snow Fairy – simply beautiful.
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The Nutcracker is at the Birmingham Hippodrome until December 13th. Click here for ticket information.
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