The Nutcracker, Birmingham Hippodrome - review with pictures
After the snow forced the cancellation of Sunday's matinee The Nutcracker was soon back up and running for its final hurrah of the season at Birmingham Hippodrome.
While many of the audience at yesterday afternoon's performance were still in their wellies and went in feeling the chill of the freezing temperatures outside - they all certainly left with a warm fuzzy Christmas buzz.
The show has been a Christmas tradition of nearly three decades in the city now with many coming back time and again. But there were plenty at yesterday afternoon's matinee experiencing it live for the first time - me included.
And while I may not know an arabesque from a plie, I like the rest of the audience was caught in the magic of Sir Peter Wright's production and Tchaikovsky's score performed perfectly by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia conducted by Philip Ellis.
With two budding ballerinas of my own this show was a must see and we were not disappointed. From the dancers themselves to the amazing scenery, the whole production was a two hour treat. The shift between scenes from the cosy Christmas room to battlefield as the rats leapt out of the fireplace was stunning. And the Land of Snow transformation was simply jaw-dropping as Snow Fairy Brooke Ray and her attendants glided across the stage.
Act Two got under way with Clara flying though the air on a magical bird that raised a good few oohs and aahs from the younger members of the audience and it was the second half when the ballet really came to the forefront as the dancers of the world performed for Clara in the fantastical world she visits.
Special mention here to the Russian troupe - Laurence Elliott, Lachlan Monaghan and Gus Payne and the popular Arabian dance of Celine Gittens.
Clara too, played by Beatrice Parma, looked comfortable joining in with the various dancers and acting her central role well. The two stand-outs of the afternoon for me were Sugar Plum Fairy, Nao Sakuma, who you couldn't take your eyes off, particularly during the dance of The Prince and The Sugar Plum Fairy. And then the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, who really brought Tchaikovsky's classics to life.
The Nutcracker comes to an end today but the dates are already scheduled in for next Christmas. No doubt we will be back to see it again and again, not to mention Sleeping Beauty - which is the next Birmingham Royal Ballet coming our way in February.