Theatre Royal Windsor (venue)
12 November 2019 (released)
13 November 2019
The pumpkin lanterns have burned out, the last firework has faded, it may still be November but we need cheering on these dark cold nights so it’s not too early to brighten things up with some truly traditional Christmas spirit. The Vienna Festival Ballet’s sumptuous production of the Nutcracker is the perfect antidote to the winter blues.
This talented ballet troupe pirouette energetically along to Tchaikovsky’s popular and well known music, taking us on a magical journey of escapism.
The ballet starts with Clara’s cheeky Grandmother taking a sly sip from her hip flask as she totters through snowy streets to the warmly inviting festive party at Clara’s family home. A painted large decorated tree provides the perfect backdrop to the proceedings as the guests play games, open presents, dance and drink merrily together. The ballet dancers combine experienced regular members of the Vienna Festival Ballet and talented youngsters performing seamlessly together.
Clara’s jealous brother Fritz wrangles with her for the new Nutcracker toy that her mysterious Uncle Drosslemeyer has just given her. Later that night, the anxious Clara sneaks downstairs to check on her Nutcracker. She witnesses a fantastic battle between the larger than life armies of a wicked Mouse King and a brought to life Nutcracker leading his team of toy soldiers. This fight scene is performed with wonderful red lighting casting dynamic shadows across the stage emphasising the danger and threat of the skirmish. Once again, child dancers perform beautifully as little mice, giving a delightfully cute atmosphere to the story.
Just as the battle seems lost and the Mouse King prepares to triumph, Clara saves her precious Nutcracker by striking the Mouse King on the head with her shoe.
The grateful Nutcracker sweeps Clara to a magical Kingdom of Snow where they witness a snow dance. The costumes are breath taking, sparkling pale bodices top diaphanous tulle skirts that float like a gentle snowfall as the dancers swirl across the stage.
A change of scene as the Nutcracker escorts Clara to the Kingdom of Sweets where Clara regales the assembled crowd with her tale of defeating the Mouse King. She is rewarded with celebratory dances from around the world. We are entertained by the varied costumes and choreography influenced by Spain, China, Arabia and Europe as well as a duet and solo pieces featuring the Sugar Plum Fairy and her consort. The thread of the Nutcracker story gets a little lost somewhere here but forget that and just be lost in the dizzying spectacle and dancing prowess.
All through this ballet, Tchaikovsky’s familiar score surges from delicate and tender through fast paced high octane to romantic crescendos. Cast off your humbug and immerse yourself in yuletide joy with this wonderful theatrical confection.