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Review: Birmingham Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker

The London production of The Nutcracker, by Birmingham Royal Ballet, is showing at The Birmingham Hippodrome for the first time ever - but did crack the audience on home turf?

The panto cheese brigade isn’t to everyone’s taste at Christmas and that’s ok – especially as there’s an equally festive show pirouetting on to The Birmingham Hippodrome stage this year. Direct from the Big Smoke, and showing in Birmingham for the first time, is Sir Peter Wright’s timeless production of The Nutcracker, performed by Birmingham Royal Ballet. Nothing like Sugar Plum Fairies, epic battles and, erm, dancing rats to get you in the festive mood, right?

Originally created for the Royal Albert Hall, the show’s being performed on home turf for one year only, and has some seriously impressive staging creds including immersive projections from 59 Productions of War Horse and London 2021 Olympic Opening Ceremony fame, and a voice over from British acting veteran Simon Callow.

From the moment the dancers tiptoed onto the stage I was blown away by their poise and gravity-defying elegance (although what else would you expect from the world-class Birmingham Royal Ballet?). There were lots of little ones in the show too – their faultless yet relaxed air was seriously impressive.

I also enjoyed the unusual placement of the orchestra for the show – there was no craning necks to peep into the musicians pit – but it was raised on a platform above the stage, front and centre. Exactly where Tchaikovsky’s captivating score should be played.

The sets were equally impressive – with the tree lighting up a particularly magical moment, as was the ‘snow’ falling from the sky, and the dazzling wall of mirrors. A highlight was when the stage was playfully transformed into the inside of a Christmas tree (which is no mean feat) with super-size strings of beads looped across the top of the stage and gigantic hanging baubles.

There’s no shortage of ‘wow’ moments in this ballet that will delight both newcomers and seasoned pros.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: Those looking to get a festive fix would do well to start here (and head to Birmingham’s German Market afterwards!).

Not for: Maybe think twice about taking the kids – it’s more than 2 hours long.

Tickets from £25. Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre, Hurst Street, Southside, Birmingham, B5 4TB

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