Culture Critic Sophia Donnelly reviews Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker
The Birmingham Royal Ballet’s 2018 production of The Nutcracker by Sir Peter Wright at the Birmingham Hippodrome is gloriously captivating and enchanting, beautifully capturing the magic of Christmas.
The festive favourite, set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless score, follows young Clara and her mesmerising dreams the night before Christmas. She is swept away into a magical winter wonderland with an evil Mouse King, life size toy soldiers, dancing snowflakes and a Sugar Plum Fairy.
Young pupils of The Elmhurst and Royal Ballet School do not fail to impress in the opening scene where they move confidently and with grace, managing to blend in with the professional dancers. The skills and technique they have already acquired at such a young age are displayed in their exceptional performances, which are certainly a credit to the outstanding teaching provided by some of the best ballet schools in the world.
John Macfarlane’s exquisite set design truly comes to life as Clara’s dream begins. The Christmas tree and fireplace grow in size, giving the illusion that Clara is shrinking to the size of her toys. This scene change is one of the most incredible spectacles of the piece and prompted gasps of amazement and spontaneous applause from the audience.
Samara Downes plays a splendidly glittering Snow Fairy showing exceptional strength of pirouettes and César Morales’ performance of the Prince displays phenomenal strength in lifting his partners with such ease and grace. The demanding role of Clara is played sublimely by Karla Doorbar as her delicate precision and grace make her perfect for the role which she plays beautifully. But the moment everyone is waiting for is the pas de deux of the Prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy. The pas de deux is danced to perfection by Momoko Hirata and César Morales. Hirata demonstrates impeccable technique and expert precision, moving elegantly between complex steps and playing to the dynamics of the dance, drawing on moments of light and shade throughout which creates a thoroughly breathtaking performance.
In this captivating Christmas must-see, enormous sets, exquisite dancers and a full orchestra combine to make the perfect Christmas treat.
The Nutcracker plays at the Birmingham Hippodrome until the 13th of December.