Northern Ballet dancers in The Nutcracker - Photo: Emma Kauldhar

The Nutcracker is as traditional a part of a theatre Christmas as panto, and Northern Ballet’s revival keeps everything in its place.

Picking up previous artistic director David’s Nixon’s choreography and design it offers little in the way of surprises, delivering an old favourite with an emphasis on fidelity rather than flair.

The opening night at Norwich Theatre Royal saw Julie Nunès as Clara, the little girl whose Christmas gift comes alive, with Filipo Di Villo the titular Nutcracker Prince. They are a suitably saccharine pairing, full of wide-eyed wonder at their unexpected Christmas Eve adventure.

Northern Ballet dancers in The Nutcracker - Photo: Jesus Vallinas
Northern Ballet dancers in The Nutcracker – Photo: Jesus Vallinas

Saeka Shirai and Joseph Taylor are also well-matched as Clara’s sister and her boyfriend James, later transformed into the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier.

The most characterful performances come from Gavin McCaig as the cape-swirling magician Drosselmeyer, and Wesley Branch as the sassy Mouse King, swagging his tail in cheeky defiance.

Students from the Norwich School of Dance take on the roles of the party children and the mice, and truly impress – no small feat given their young age and the imposing size of the Theatre Royal stage.

The main corps choreography in contrast feels a little less than ambitious at times – where we could have movements building to a climax, too often they peter out. Even then some of the execution could be crisper, particularly the French and Russian ‘sweets’.

Nonetheless this is an enjoyable performance, taken on its terms as an old favourite rather than a radical reimagining. Perhaps in these troubled times, reliable and reassuring is just what we need.