Oxford Oxfordshire Review Theatre

Nutcracker at Oxford’s New Theatre

A review by Nicholas Newman

With its glittering set, fairy-tale transformations and stage wizardry, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker is perfect for bringing the magic of the festive season to the stage – small wonder that this tale has become a staple of ballet repertories the world over. The Russian State Ballet of Siberia has been very innovative in this production, by combining both the best in Russian ballet tradition with innovative staging and dancing in a clean and crisp manner as falling snowflakes. This is a very colorful and imaginative production.

Inside the New Theatre

Magic is in the air instantly as the audience is invited into the Stahlbaums’ drawing room, where festivities are in full flow. Against the backdrop of a giant Christmas tree, presents are dispensed by the children of the Russian State Ballet of Siberia as all generations gather in their bonnets and nightcaps – the perfect picture of a traditional aristocratic 18th-century family party, but one to which we’re all invited. One friend observed, “That the production was touching, subtle, when necessary dynamic, sometimes delicate music with masterclass orchestra director and excellent playing musicians.” Also, she suggested that due to the small stage space at Oxford’s New Theatre, it was more challenging for the dancers to complete their set pieces in the space that is available at larger theatres such as the Krakow Opera House or Opera Bastille in Paris.

There are some great set pieces, such as the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, which is performed by the dancer in a technically perfect but entertaining manner. Her movements were small, precise yet packed with energy, allowing her to layer the necessary nuances of girlish giddiness. Whilst another companion observed that the dances were very beautiful, dynamic and refreshing. She especially liked the mouse dance which was very powerfully performed. Altogether she found it a feast for the senses.

However, this production version triumphs especially is with magician Drosselmeyer, making him the key figure in the story as he attempts to use Clara to free his nephew, the soldier Hans-Peter, from a curse that’s transformed him into a nutcracker. The sense of wonder conjured up in the transformation scene is key to a Nutcracker that still casts a powerful spell.

It is a production well worth seeing and a great way to brighten up a dull January day.

The Nutcracker is on national tour from 6 January to 10 March and is being promoted by http://www.raymondgubbay.co.uk/whats-on/the-russian-state-ballet-of-siberia-2018/the-nutcracker

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