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.
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.
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.
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.