The Nutcracker

Choreography by Victor Smirnov-Golovanov
Moscow City Ballet
Theatre Royal, Newcastle, and touring
(2006)

Performance photo

Following hot on the heels of Moscow City Ballet’s production of Romeo and Juliet earlier in the week, comes their enchanting version of The Nutcracker.

And having seen Wednesday night’s sumptuous show, it comes as no surprise that the 80-strong company are to perform an extra matinee this Friday to meet the demand for tickets. Indeed, it is testimony to the reputation of this company and also the enduring appeal of this popular ballet, with its famous rousing score by Tchaikovsky.

And the universal appeal of the music bridges all age gaps. Even my 10-year-old daughter, accompanying me for the evening, delighted in the fact that she knew the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and other favourites.

Three years ago we saw Matthew Bourne’s very funky and exciting take on The Nutcracker at this same theatre. It was innovative and ingenious and we loved it. But with the Moscow City Ballet it’s classical and traditional. But it’s a superb class act.

It may sound clichéd to call it a visual feast, but the fabulous costumes and classy sets are pure eye candy, as we watch favourite characters like the Nutcracker Prince and the Doll bring Drosselmeyer’s magical world to life for Clara.

A particular highlight was the Waltz of the Flowers, giving the corps a chance to shine, and show off those delightful costumes, while the Dance of Chinese Tea was fun and full of humour, engaging with the audience.

Eugenia Bespalova makes for a sweet Clara with her touching fragility and Gennadiy Batalov, as Drosselmeyer, with his handsome, angular face, was an absolute joy to watch. Mikhail Mikhailov, as the Nutcracker Prince, seemed to enjoy every moment on stage.

It’s a fine, polished performance, so pace yourself for at least five minutes of applause at the finale.

Reviewer: Katharine Capocci