Sunday, 13 November 2022

REVIEW: The Northern Ballet’s The Nutcracker at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking

This iconic Christmas delight for all the family has arrived bright and early at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre and my goodness, what a delicious treat it is. The auditorium sparkles before curtain up; titillating us with the delights to come as we meet young Clara and her family celebrating Christmas. The arrival of a mysterious magician entrances the family and their party, amazing them all with incredible feats. He offers Clara the gift of a Nutcracker who at the stroke of midnight, brings to life as a handsome prince who whisks her away to a land of sugar plum fairies, snowflakes and flowers who dance in her honour.

(Fear not, if you are more ballet-curious than a seasoned visitor, the programme includes an in-depth explanation of everything you would wish to know of the story in all its glory.)

The Northern Ballet’s The Nutcracker evokes such childlike joy you cannot help but surrender to its charm. All was merry and bright from the moment it began to the final curtain call. While this is a Christmas-themed ballet, it did not feel out of place in a November calendar and encouraged me to surrender to my wintery mood. As is the expectation for any ballet in my eyes, the sets and costumes were suitably impressive and glitzy. The Snowflakes in particular were just beautiful, further enhanced by an expertly lit stage. The position of the rigging across the front corners of the stage showed off just how much colour was shining in Clara’s wonderland, and it was easy to enchant in the audience too.
Tchaikovsky’s timeless music is magnificently played throughout by the orchestra who are modestly tucked away in the pit below the stage. The balance was heavenly – showcasing the flutes, clarinet and oboe in particular to eargasmic levels. It was wonderful to hear so many approving noises from the audience when the movements of the ballet began which people were surprised they knew. Iconic numbers like The Sugarplum Fairy, Waltz of The Flowers, Candy Cane and The Chinese Dance were met with huge applause.

There were moments of glorious comedy, perfectly interwoven with technical excellence executed by all in the company. The ‘flossing’ King Mouse was exceptionally well received and not something I ever expected to see in a classic ballet but it was very welcomed nonetheless! The French Dolls too were hugely popular and the talking point of the interval. The children from The Susan Robinson School of Ballet were just adorable and had the audience cooing in their seats, particularly during their turn as baby mice.

In a corps de ballet with this much skill and expertise, it is noteworthy that every dancer was sensational, however, Rachael Gillespie leads this company as Clara and blesses us with her endearing performance. She is magnetic and inviting; gracing the stage with a huge presence, despite being so petite in stature.

I regressed to a childlike state of wonderment and joy at The Nutcracker. It is simply a must-see for all the family. It is technically, physically and emotionally perfect in every way.

Review by Harriet Langdown 

Rating: ★★★★★

Seat: L5 | Price of Ticket: £46.50
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