THE NUTCRACKER | Hong Kong, Cultural Centre Grand Theatre

This brand-new production for Hong Kong Ballet is a spectacular Hong-Kong themed fantasy that borders on the nationalistic, taking us away from the traditional snow and sweets, into a world of tropical pink bauhinia blossom and dim sum. The cast is absolutely enormous, and about 50-50 adults and children.

The production design (Gabriela Tylesova, Au Yu Kong) takes over the entire theatre with its enormous, machine-age golden cogs, and transports us to a number of stunning locations, including the grand hall of Kom Tong Hall (now the Sun Yat-sen museum), replete with twenty-one paintings from the Hong Kong Museum of Art, and a stunning, white vaulted ceiling.

The Hong Kong Sinfonietta (conducted by Yip Wing-sie) also dazzle, with a fizzing, rapid-fire rendition of Tchaikovsky’s beloved score that is bursting with energy. As a result, the design and music completely upstage the dance. But there are still some amazing moments, including the chaotic mayhem of lion dancers around gigantic piles of white buns, for the Cheung Chau bun festival, and the grand finale show-off between the Cavalier (Yonen Takano) and Sugar Plum Fairy (Amber Lewis).

There are still some teething problems: the climactic Act 1 finale of dancing snowflakes feels uncharacteristically confused and unenergised. The lighting design (Billy Chan) is still illuminating random spots on the proscenium arch. These problems should all be sorted out by next Christmas, and this production is sure to be loved by locals and visitors alike for many years to come.

Playing 11 – 26 December 2021 at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Grand Theatre.

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