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Advent is undoubtedly my favourite time of the year, and it’s such a joy to experience Birmingham as it captures the essence of Christmas so beautifully. With the German Market in full swing and sparkling decorations lining the city streets, it seems only fitting that Birmingham Royal Ballet completes the most magnificent festive evening as it, once again, sprinkles its magic on the Hippodrome stage with The Nutcracker.

Yijing Zhang as the Snow Fairy and Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet in the Waltz of the Snowflakes in The Nutcracker; photo: Andrew Ross

Enveloped by the phenomenal music score (Tchaikovsky, of course), the exceptional artists of BRB exuberate – impeccably, I might add – a jovial, festival atmosphere as they envision the much-loved fairy tale of pure imagination and childhood innocence. From the moment the curtains rise and the Dickensian tones of narrator Simon Callow echo throughout the auditorium, the audience is transported into the most fantastical story. Through the linguistics of ballet, we follow the tale of Clara (Karla Doorbar) as she discovers the mystical world of the Nutcracker (Gus Payne), the dangers of the Rat King (Valentin Olovyannikov) and the elegance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (Beatrice Parma).

Dance after dance, I became more and more mesmerised by Dick Bird’s incredible set, and how beautifully it blended with the lighting, designed by Peter Teigen. These intertwined with the projections (59 Productions) throughout and together they truly brought this production to life. And finally, I couldn’t possibly discuss the design elements without mentioning the wonderful costumes. Supervised by Elaine Garlick, each garment is so impeccably allegorical for each individual character.

Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet in the Waltz of the Snowflakes in The Nutcracker; photo: Annabel Mueller

From start to finish, I was lost in the magical journey that was being laid out before me; highlighting how incredibly lucky we are to have such talented theatre makers here in Birmingham.  The Nutcracker is an absolute Christmas treat for the eyes and the heart – there are few productions that capture this feeling quite like it – and Birmingham Royal Ballet accomplished this effortlessly.

The Nutcracker is at The Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday December 11. For more details and tickets are available HERE. I was lucky enough to experience a backstage tour of the BRB costumes and you can read more about my visit here.

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