Tinsel bright and shiny this Northern Ballet production of The Nutcracker is a pleasantly sweet introduction to the festive season.
The classic story of Clara and her dream adventures with a toy soldier brought to life by mysterious magic is told with a feather-light touch by choreographer and director David Nixon, and with visual flair from Charles Cusick Smith’s set design.
Set to Tchaikovsky’s famous score the dancing doesn’t over stress the corps, with fairly muted routines that keep the action light rather than dazzle with technical brilliance. The sinfonia, while accomplished, also seems a little restrained in their delivery.
As Clara Rachael Gillespie gets precious few chances to show her emotional range but acquits herself well when she does, partnered mostly with a fine Nutcracker Prince in Ashley Dixon.
Lucia Solari and Javier Torres dominate the piece as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier respectively but never quite get the opportunity to show what they may really be capable of.
There are delightful touches in the marching of the toy soldiers, Isaac Lee-Baker’s bombastic Mouse King, and Clara’s ‘sliding’ on the ice in fairyland, but it would be nice to see those magic sparkles dotted more fully throughout the piece.
Sebastian Loe and Mathew Koon’s Chinese routine was a delight, but the other ‘confections’ lacked their exuberance – merely safe rather than seductive.
It’s an enjoyable two hours and a reliable production of this traditional Christmas ballet. You won’t leave disappointed, but this is perhaps more a stocking filler than that must have main present.