I’m lucky enough to have seen Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Nutcracker (now in its 26th year) every season it’s been presented but I can honestly say this first night was the best ever, fresh as paint, powerfully beautiful, moving and funny in equal measure, the pinnacle of seasonal entertainment those in the know look forward to all year long. Mark Monahan in the Telegraph raves about the Opera House version but I’ve seen them both and believe me, Birmingham’s is better.
The opening scene with its great pre-revolutionary Russian Christmas party has its own marvellous joys, the presents, the conjurer, the dancing in which all the family take part and of course the tree, but nothing, really nothing can prepare us for the coup de theatre that is the jaw-dropping transformation scene, one the miracles of world theatre which gets you every time. And that’s only the beginning, with a second act justifiably world famous for the exquisite charm of its set-piece national dances as we enter the dangerously unpredictable other-world of the Nutcracker Doll.
On opening night Karla Doorbar was marvellous as Clara the young girl on the very brink of womanhood who we join on her marvellous adventure. I really don’t want to spoil the surprises but I have to mention the great climactic pas de deux in the second act starring as The Prince, Joseph Caley and Momoko Hirata as the Sugar Plum Fairy – I have never seen this impossible-looking variation done so well.
This show really has got the lot, marvellous sets and costumes, the magic and mystery of its Christmas dream and of course, Tchaikovsky’s famously magical score.
In fact on this evening everyone was at top of their game and for a very good reason – with The Nutcracker’s choreographer Sir Peter Wright in the audience celebrating his 90th birthday this crack company glittered more than even they have ever done before. When he came on stage after the final curtain we stood to applaud him, to cheer and honour him for his achievement and to sing Happy Birthday to him.
An unforgettable Christmas treat, and it’s not even Christmas yet. Quick, see if there any tickets left!
The Nutcracker runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until 13th December 13. For tickets phone 0844 338 5000 or visit www.birminghamhippodrome.com.