It is something of an age-old tradition. As the nights draw in and the cold chill of winter takes hold, my family and I gather together to kickstart our Christmas festivities by taking in a performance of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker. 

Initially as a child and then as an adult, I’ve sat year after year on the edge of my seat, watching the Sugar Plum Fairy, King Rat and the Nutcracker gracefully strut their stuff. 
And I can safely say that this year’s production is the most sumptuous and most magical I have ever seen.  

Since lockdown ended, Birmingham Royal Ballet, under the excellent stewardship of Carlos Acosta, have simply excelled in every way. Each performance has something new, something unseen, something to tantalise the tastebuds of even the most ardent ballet goer. 

The show’s dancers are, as usual, an absolute delight, making their craft seem not only beautifully elegant but graceful and effortless. Whether we’re talking César Morales, Momoko Hirata, Tyrone Singleton, Tzu-Chao Chou - or any of the cast, in fact - the performances are spectacular, quite rightly receiving enthusiastic applause from an enraptured audience.  

The set designs are everything you would expect from BRB: sumptuous, luxurious and very elegant. The use of light projections, meanwhile, is a clever technique which allows the audience to become part of the performance - we shrink down in size under the Christmas tree, and the wings of a flying bird envelope us. This, coupled with beautiful costumes and the iconic music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - performed up on high from a purpose-built balcony by the very talented Royal Ballet Sinfonia - transports us for a few hours into another world. Never have I felt quite so Christmassy in November!  

If you are looking for that special something to get you into the Christmas spirit, this most certainly is it.  

Five stars. Reviewed by Stephen on Thursday 25 November 2021

Birmingham Royal Ballet's The Nutcracker continues to show at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 11 December