When John Macfarlane’s wonderful drop cloth goes up on Peter Wright’s lavishly beautiful Nutcracker, the Christmas season in Birmingham is under way.
Here is a production bursting with magic, evidence if you like that Wright has an extraordinary understanding of this ballet, with every nuance considered then presented for our delight.
Every effect during the evening underlines the theme that this is a rite of passage, where we see a child transformed into a young woman, passing from affectation to the discovery of love (Carol-Anne Millar as Clara in her finest hour, piloting effortlessly a flying swan across the moon).
Clearly the whole thing is engineered by the magician Drosselmeyer, who beguiles us with conjuring tricks at the outset of the evening, then ushers in the fabulous Kingdom of the South, with its tropical flowers, illusionist mirrors and dance divertimenti.
The company rose wholeheartedly to the occasion, they danced well and found the sense of magic Wright’s interpretation demands so clearly.
Robert Parker’s powerful Drosselmeyer approached something just short of perfection. Parker, in my experience, is the only dancer to date who has found this curious sense of hauteur mixed with a dash of amorality, which true lords of the faery world possess. You felt this Drosselmeyer could have wiped out the whole stage with a careless snap of his fingers.
Chi Cao (the Prince) and Nao Sakuma’s Sugar Plum Fairy both deserved the huge ovation they received for impeccable dancing.
And how wonderful it was to see David Morse and Marion Tait as the grandparents dancing at the opening Christmas party. Here was mime and exquisite interpretation from masters of the dance art, lit by David A Finn, who caught brilliantly the winter twilight darkening into night, seen through the great up-stage window in the Stahlbaum’s house.