Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Nutcracker is like an opulent John Lewis advert, brought to life on stage. Clara’s magical journey takes her from a warm, Christmas party with her family into an enchanting winter wonderland of dancing snowflakes, where she meets a radiant Sugar Plum Fairy. 

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s evergreen production of The Nutcracker has been part of the City’s Christmas tradition since 1990 and has returned to Birmingham Hippodrome once again this year.

The Nutcracker is an inevitable part of ballet’s Christmas, with its irresistible Tchaikovsky score and a storyline packed with transformations and fantasy. This year Sir Peter Wright has turned the story into a surreal dream.

“I made the whole story Clara’s dream, a dream inspired by the gift of a nutcracker doll, and to some extent, by the magician Drosselmeyer” – Sir Peter Wright.

Birmingham The Nutcracker 2019
Karla Doorbar as Clara, Angela Paul as Clara’s Mother and Rory Mackay as Drosselmeyer; photo: Andrew Ross

This is a production of contrasts and colour. The story begins beneath a magical green tree in a traditional turn-of-the-century setting. The magician Drosselmeyer sweeps the stage in a red cloak; Mrs Stahlbaum parades a stunning crimson dress and the set is defined by warm, red walls and drapery. There is magic and dancing and a lot of present-giving. This is how you have a Christmas party.

The Nutcracker Birmingham 2019
Laura Day as Clara, Tom Rogers as King Rat and Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet in The Nutcracker; photo: Bill Cooper

Clara is presented with her Christmas gift: a Nutcracker. Like many children on Christmas Eve, she can’t sleep. She sneaks downstairs, dancing with poise. I can’t keep my eyes off ballet dancer Karla Doorbar.

Birmingham The Nutcracker 2019
Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet as Snowflakes in The Nutcracker; photo: Bill Cooper

And the magic begins. And the colours change. The Christmas tree starts to grow, and toys come to life. The Nutcracker transforms into a handsome prince, rescuing her from giant rats and fire.

Momoko Hirata as the Sugar Plum Fairy and César Morales as The Prince in The Nutcracker; photo: Bill Cooper

The prince, played by Chilean dancer César Morales, is a pleasure to watch as he dances Clara into the Land of Frosted Sugar. The children’s choir of Ex Cathedra start to sing, as snow falls around the dancers. It’s like a giant snow globe of beautiful ballet, magical and mesmerising and dream-like.

The highlight of the performance is Momoko Hirata as the Sugar Plum Fairy. She is exquisite in her elegant lines; she’s grand and gracious. It’s the icing on the cake for this impressive production.

This world-famous production by Sir Peter Wright – with its gigantic, fairytale sets, lavish costumes, 60 stunning dancers and full orchestra – combine to make the perfect Christmas treat.

Ruth x

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