NUTCRACKER | London, Coliseum

Christmas isn’t Christmas without a million productions of Tchaikovsky’s best-loved ballet, and a sold-out performance from English National Ballet (ENB) provides plenty to write about for the festive theatregoer. With other interpretations of The Nutcracker in town, Tamara Rojo’s artistic direction sets her production apart from the traditional ballet by omitting the definite article, with a slightly more humorous touch and emphatic narrative style.

Audiences will be transported to a Victorian setting from curtain-up, with classic Christmas scenery (Peter Farmer) and impressive choreography (Wayne Eagling) – and shoes (!) – bringing ice-skating to life on stage. Younger performers excel in these early scenes, with young Clara (Sophie Carter) standing out as a promising ballerina-in-the-making.

This production may not have the scale or pomp of The Royal Ballet’s annual spectacular at the Royal Opera House, but it matches its esteemed counterpart in costume design (also Peter Farmer) and orchestral excellence (conducted by Gavin Sutherland).

The ENB also lived up to its worldwide reputation for stunning dancers, particularly in the case of Rina Kanehara, whose flawless finishes and poster-worthy lines were a delight. Notably, tonight’s show employed Kanehara as both Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy – a casting decision I have not previously seen.

Precious Adams is also not to be missed, showcasing a confident elegance as one of the Lead Flowers. Audiences may also find themselves chuckling aloud in the second half, namely at the Spanish and Russian Dances, which mix athletic ballet with well-crafted jollity.

ENB’s Nutcracker doesn’t skip a beat. If you’re looking for a noteworthy ballet, with magical scenery, superb dancers and on-stage snow, look no further than the London Coliseum this December.

All 22 remaining performances of ENB’s Nutcracker until 30 December 2018 are sold out.

Read The Prickle’s review of The Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House here.

Read The Prickle’s review of Hong Kong Ballet’s The Nutcracker at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre here.

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