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.
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. 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. The Nutcracker is at the Birmingham Hippodrome until December 13th. Click here for ticket information.