Sir Peter Wright’s Nutcracker was created in 1990 as a gift to the City of Birmingham for welcoming the Birmingham Royal Ballet in its first year. I’ve seen this marvellous ballet every time it’s been programmed as their Christmas show, but this year it somehow seems better than ever.

The spectacular theatrical tricks of the first act are so jaw-dropping that the second half can seem almost an anti-climax by comparison. But this year by some first-night magic all the big set pieces worked with just that extra glitter on an evening which went from jaw-dropping delight to delight, fresh as newly minted Christmas coins.

Karla Doorbar as Clara in The Nutcracker. Pic: Bill Cooper

From the great pre-revolutionary family Christmas party which begins this tale of magic and mystery, through Clara’s journey to the Land of Ice and Snow where she is entertained by the endlessly inventive set-piece ballets performed for her, and our, entertainment, the whole evening was one fantastic delight after another. Even the always excellent Royal Ballet Sinfonia sounded better than ever on the first night, their sheer joie de vivre in playing Tchaikovsky’s marvellous score ensuring this was a true Gala evening.

In a huge starry cast special mention must go to Joseph Caley as the Prince and Karla Doorbar as Clara, the young girl whose lovely dream this is.

I’m not going to spoil all the wonderful surprises for first timers. Instead I’ll just say that the highest level of design is everywhere in this marvellous ballet. Combined with the company’s wonderful dancing this makes it a world-class spectacle no one who sees it ever forgets. Twenty four years ago it was performed on two evenings only. Now public demand means we’re fortunate enough to have it for two glorious weeks. It remains one of the greatest jewels in BRB’s crown.

The Nutcracker runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until December 13. For tickets phone the Box Office on 0844 338 5000 or go online at