23-26 November 2016
Reviewed by Natasha Kolb
Although my husband and I are keen theatre goers, we had never seen a ballet before and for us both, it was on our bucket lists! To be able to see The Nutcracker performed by the English National Ballet was something I just had to see!
Milton Keynes theatre is bright, buzzing and offers everything you would expect from such a modern theatre from a piano bar to VIP packages as well as pop up stands and bars throughout the theatre.
Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker is set on Christmas Eve where we see a young Clara, her brother Freddy and friends enjoying an evening of dance and waiting for St Nicholas. They are joined by Dr Drosselmeyer who gives Clara a Nutcracker which is swiftly broken by her brother Freddy. This then leads Clara dream about her precious Nutcracker who battles the mouse king. The whole performance is beautifully set in snowy, Christmas scenes.
During the first act, in the dream, young Clara, beautifully portrayed by Sophia Mucha, smoothly transitions into an older version of herself played by principle lead Alina Cojocaru, an incredible dancer who lived up to my every expectation of “seeing a ballerina” for the first time. Sounds silly but I think many girls have that love or interest in ballet when young, so to see a ballet like this, bought back childhood excitement for me!
I was also desperate to see the dancers in tutus, I thought this might be another silly wish of mine but from the bubbling conversation in the foyer, turns out I wasn’t alone at all, and we weren’t left disappointed! The highlight of the first act for me was The Snowflake Dance with dancers performing a breath-taking piece all in stunning handmade tutus, it was truly dazzling.
The second act took us around the world with dancers portraying, Spain, Russia, China and Arabia. Each dance incorporating a different dancing style and captivated us throughout, leading to another highlight of Clara, now dressed stunningly as the Sugar Plum Fairy dancing with her Nutcracker who has since seemingly transformed in Drosselmeyer’s nephew.
A special mention needs to be made for the English National Orchestra, beautifully conducted by Gavin Sutherland. In many ways, they were as mesmerising as the dancers and throughout the entire performance, the music set the scene. It was lovely how much of the music pieces I knew, I’m not a music buff at all but I thoroughly enjoyed hearing music that I’ve simply grown up with. Played so brilliantly by this impressive orchestra and of course danced to so perfectly making the entire performance truly breath-taking.
This ENB performance was everything I expected from a ballet from the splendour of the set, the breath-taking music and of course the performers. This was an experience certainly worth having whilst they tour parts of the country, you won’t be left disappointed!
I would have to rate this an easy 5 out of 5.
Tickets cost from £13.90 to £49.40 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
ENB Nutcracker is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 26 November 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 8717652.
Milton Keynes Theatre, 500 Marlborough Gate, Milton Keynes, Bucks, MK9 3NZ