Opening Night at the Mayflower of English National Ballet`s Nutcracker brings Tchaikovsky’s brilliant score to life in this traditional Christmas story, that begins with dancers on ice and guests arriving for a party. The child Clara - beautifully danced by Annabelle Sanders - is given a present of a Nutcracker doll.

James Lovell, dancing the part of Clara`s young brother Freddie - in this elegant Edwardian, drawing room scene, dances exceptionally well and brings talent and humour to his character. When mysterious family friend Drosselmeyer (Fabian Reimar) arrives with his nephew the story really begins.

Magical, and with a dream like quality, we are treated to fabulous dancing that heightens the senses and draws us willingly into this evocative Christmas story. Clara, performed as an adult by the ethereal Daria Klimentova is stunning to watch. Her character is brilliantly supported in strong performances by her partners; The Nutcracker (Max Westwell) and Vadim Muntagirov as the Nephew.

James Streeter as the Mouse King is outstanding throughout and his threatening, dynamic character never falters. As act one closes, and the main characters float away above a frost-dusted winter scene we are enchanted and eager to see more.

Act 2 opens into a puppet theatre where dancers in lavish costumes, representing nations of the world, come to life and dance out of the theatre into an exhilarating, colourful extravaganza that is thrilling-with the spirited Russian dance, particularly enjoyable. Most impressive is the ‘Waltz of the Flowers’ with its ensemble of male and female dancers which makes the second act captivating. Add to that Klimentova`s stunningly performed ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’ and a breath-taking finale.

Accompanied by brilliant orchestral work conducted by Gavin Sutherland, Wayne Eggling`s exuberant choreography - alongside brilliant sets, ghoulish mice and above all fine dancing- makes for a truly enchanted evening...Amazing!