Ballet lovers young and old have a treat in store at Hull New Theatre this week. Northern Ballet are visiting with their superb production of The Nutcracker. It’s a classic enjoyed by ballet lovers the world over and I was lucky to be in the seats for opening night.
Northern Ballet are not known for their classical and traditional ballets however, their magical production of Nutcracker really is a ‘must see’ for ‘Nut’ lovers.
Choreographed in 2007 by David Nixon OBE and Director of Northern Ballet, this production is set in Regency England. It tells the story of Clara, a young girl who receives a present of a Nutcracker Doll at Christmas. Clara goes on an adventure with the nutcracker doll. But, first the Nutcracker Doll must defeat the Mouse King and his army, and a toy battle commences. The audience really has to keep an eye on the Mouse King as he hilariously performs a ‘Floss’ on stage. Surely a first for the ballet world. As a character the Mouse King is a brilliant comic character who keeps the audience amused with his antics. The Nutcracker defeats the Mouse King with the help of Clara and is transformed into the Nutcracker Prince.
On opening night, the Nutcracker Prince was played by local lad, Ashley Dixon. (Hull has such a wonderful history of producing dancers) and the Prince escorted Clara through the snow and dancing snowflakes into the Pavilion from the East. Here the audience were treated to a superb Spanish divertissement by Kevin Poeung, an evocative Arabian dance, a Russian dance and a super Chinese dance with brilliant choreography and exciting moves. This dance really stood out for me with its springy movements all performed slickly by Riku Ito and Matthew Koon.
Of course, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier make an appearance which is always a favourite of the audience.
All too soon, morning approaches and Clara has to return home and is seen being carried by her father as she wakens from her dream.
I must specially mention Mlindi Kulashe who danced Herr Drosselmeyer, the toymaker and magician. He skillfully wove his magic and brought together the dances in both acts. His ‘cape-ography’ (as those who watch Strictly will know) was fantastic. He was expressive and for me the star of the show.
I have seen several productions of ‘Nut’ over the years and this one has to be among my favourites. It has that familiar score from Tchaikovsky (like putting comfy slippers on) and great versatile scenery and costumes. Clara (Rachael Gillispie) is a delight with light dancing and a tender portrayal. In fact, the whole production is a delight on the senses.
It’s a great Christmas Treat for all ages so don’t miss your chance to see it at Hull New Theatre this week until Saturday and don’t forget the souvenir programme.
Tickets start from as little as £9.00!