Christmas is coming! Birmingham’s Nutcracker glitters

Birmingham Royal Ballet at the Birmingham Hippodrome
November 28, 2017

David Mead

Thanks to the needs of panto, Christmas ballet arrives a little early in Birmingham. But who cares because, as familiar as it may have become, Sir Peter Wright’s classy and sparkling Nutcracker is guaranteed to brings smiles and warmth; and with a decidedly wintry chill to the weather outside, the latter was much needed.

It’s impossible not to love Birmingham’s very own Christmas ballet, even if you’ve seen it countless times. It can be extra special for newcomers, though. I lost count how many times the lady behind me said, “Wow!”. Spot on too.

In Act I, it’s the transformation scene that usually gets most people. As that fireside chair turns to reveal to slightly dark, slightly mysterious figure that is Drosselmeyer, it’s impossible to get all spine-tingly. And that tree doesn’t just grow taller, it expands in every direction, dwarfing the dancers, who, like Alice, seem to shrink before our very eyes.

Laura Day as Clara and Tzu-Chao Chou as her Dancing PartnerPhoto Bill Cooper
Laura Day as Clara and Tzu-Chao Chou as her Dancing Partner
Photo Bill Cooper

For me, it’s that pas de deux that follows between The Nutcracker and Clara that is the highlight of the first half, though. It has feeling and relevance to the story writ right through it, unlike the grand Act II pas, which is essentially a show of technique.

As Clara, Laura Day had looked pretty radiant dancing with Tzu-chao Chou at the party, but in the pas de deux she looked like she had just opened the Christmas present of her wildest dreams, and why not, because her Nutcracker doll had morphed into the tall and handsome cavalier that was Tyrone Singleton. She just brimmed happiness in dance that was full of lightness.

The Act II winter wonderland dances were all well done, although standing out for me was Beatrice Parma as the all-white Rose Fairy. She not only glittered, but was sharp and precise. In the big pas de deux, Singleton was joined by Jenna Roberts was equally pinpoint accurate with everything.

The Nutcracker continues at the Birmingham Hippodrome until December 13. Visit for details.