A Christmas Treat For Everyone


In his forward David Nixon says The Nutcracker has been part of his life for 40 years. This beautiful ballet has also been part of my Christmas since I was little more than a toddler.

In those days most of the major theatres put on pantomimes at Christmas but some did manage to fit in a touring version of The Nutcracker before pantomime mayhem began.

But if not mum would bundle me up and on a train to a matinee in London so that The Nutcracker would be part of her daughter’s Christmas – and its been an essential ingredient in my Christmas ever since.

Even when I lived overseas I played videos of The Nutcracker some going back in time to the days of the late great classical dancers at Christmas if I couldn’t find a version on the local T.V.

It’s a magical work with such beautiful music by Tchaikovsky that’s known to almost everyone, although a lot of people don’t associate ad jingles such as “everyone’s a fruit and nut case” with the ballet.

This year The Grand Theatre plays hosts to Northern Ballet’s Christmas production of The Nutcracker originally created in 2007 and set in Regency England.

In the hands of David Nixon it’s a magical, stylish and seamless production where everything is as it should be to delight both young and old. But I couldn’t help feeling it was a rather pared down production but it lost no impact at all on the artistic side.

However the opening front cloth scene seemed a tad longer than normal perhaps because it was danced in front of a dismal cloth with a cut out in the middle that had somewhat of a wobble!

But despite this less than perfect set, the excellent dancing one has come to expect from this hard working, talented young company still prevailed.

Rachel Gillespie as Clara was perfection on points. She displayed the childlike innocence demanded of this role yet retained an air of mischief within her persona.

In a ballet that’s all about fairies Lucia Solari was every bit the Sugar Plum fairy and just how every little ballerina in the audience aspires to be. What a delight Pippa Moore, who usually plays a more glamorous role, was as Grandma Edwards. Miss Moore certainly is a versatile dancer.

Magical mystery time evolved as each of the toy dances unfurled in Act 2 each equally as spectacular as the other with the passion and choreography that matched each one’s nationality.

Northern Ballet Sinfonia conductor John Pryce Jones got the right balance for Tchaikovsky’s score which is not an easy one to play.

The Nutcracker is an inspirational piece and still brings wonder and magic to everyone leaving them with beautiful memories that will last for years to come.

This production runs until 2nd January and needs to be part of everyone’s Christmas entertainment plan.

Review by Liz Coggins

You must be logged in to post a comment Login