BRB dance Sir Peter Wright’s magical production of the Christmas classic, following the story of the young girl Clara, who’s given a nutcracker doll by her godfather Drosselmeyer, and has a Christmas night dream where the doll turns into a charming Prince, who flies her to a land of wonders.
Adapted by BRB’s former director David Bintley, this RAH-specific production makes intelligent use of the vast hall, turning the lack of proscenium, wings and complex sets and props into advantages.
Particularly inspired is the combination of designs (Dick Bird) and hyper-realistic projections (59 Productions). For the scene where the family’s Christmas tree magically grows, marking the transition from the real world to a dream world, an ever-growing Christmas tree is projected onto the giant screens that surround the RAH's stage with mesmerising colour and definition. Huge coloured baubles are slowly lowered from the ceiling.The effect (pictured top) is immersive.
And so is the image of naked frosty trees in a moonlit forest, the set for the Dance of the Snowflakes that brings Act I to an end, as flakes of fake snow fall gently onto the stage and the first rows of the RAH arena.
Birmingham Royal Ballet's production of The Nutcracker for the Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Andrew Ross
The story, too, has been slightly tweaked. Drosselmeyer, a flamboyant Rory Mackay on press night, is not a magician, but rather a maker of dolls and automata; and the divertissements of Act II are danced by his dolls come to life.
And the Nutcracker turned Prince, who leads the young Clara to the land of wonders, is also the Prince who partners the Sugar Plum Fairy in the ballet’s climactic grand pas de deux.
As the Nutcracker/Prince, Mathias Dingman was a reliable partner to both Clara (Laura Day) and the Sugar Plum Fairy (Momoko Hirata).
Blonde and bright, Karla Doorbar brought to life a young girl on the verge of adolescence, her assured technique perfectly serving her character in a role which she has made very much her own.
For all that the entire company danced with gusto and commitment – perfectly synchronised snowflakes, colourful flowers with their elegant cavaliers, boisterous Russian dancers, whimsical Chinese, villainous and richly apparelled King Rat – the highlight of the evening was Momoko Hirata’s radiant Sugar Plum Fairy.
Intensely musical, her un-rushed movements flowed without ever losing definition, her entire performance creamy and seemingly effortless.
In the absence of an orchestra pit, the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, conducted by Paul Murphy, was placed on a a raised platform above the stage in front of the organ, from where they offered a faultless rendition of Tchaikovsky’s enchanting score.
Age Guidance: 5+
|What||BRB, The Nutcracker review|
|Where||Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AP | MAP|
|Nearest tube||South Kensington (underground)|
28 Dec 22 – 31 Dec 22, Start times 12:00, 14:00; 16:00, 19:00 Consult website for dates & times. Dur.: 2 hour 10 mins inc one interval
|Website||Click here to book|