THE NUTCRACKER | London, Royal Opera House

What better way to jeté into the Christmas season than this five-star, cracker of a show at the Royal Opera House? For those of us who were unlucky at the box office, though, cinemas across the UK provided a welcome opportunity to join seasoned ballet patrons for opening night.

Compered by Darcy Bussell, cinema viewers were given VIP treatment with an insider’s glimpse into pointe shoes, celestes (the “music box” keyboard, famous for The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy) and the rigorous training of this year’s cast. Backstage interviewers continued all the way through, with viewers encouraged to tweet during the interval.

Anne Rose O’Sullivan (Clara) is the epitome of fragile, childlike elegance, with a high point being her petit pas de deux with Marcelino Sambé (the Nutcracker), which pirouetted between new-found friendship and adolescent romance. Marianela Nunez gives a stylish performance as the Sugar Plum Fairy, and other cast members of note were Melissa Hamilton from The Arabian Dance, as well as Fumi Kaneko as the lead in The Dance of the Reed Pipes.

Peter Wright’s iconic production has been enchanting family audiences since 1984. The set and costumes (Julia Trevelyan Oman) transport you to the heart of Victorian festivities, before morphing into a pine-topped wonderland, fit with expanding Christmas trees, sleigh rides and heavenly archways. The production values are lavish, and the cinema experience heightens this by zooming in on the finer detail. There is something for all the family at London’s most popular ballet.

The Nutcracker is sold out. Visit the Royal Opera House box office for possible returns.

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