It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Manchester, the Northern Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker proving to be a festive treat for the whole family to enjoy.

It’s the night before Christmas, and Clara’s present- a Nutcracker- has already been broken. Working his magic, her Uncle Drosselmeyer sends her in to a fantasy world, where toys come to life, dreams come true and sugar plum fairies dance in the moonlight.

The company tell the story beautifully, playing with the balletic form in fun and captivating ways.

Pippa Moore makes a charming Clara, her graceful movements and petite frame, giving her a youthful quality that is captivating to watch. Furthermore, her stage brother and sister (Julie Charlet and Jeremy Curnier), are equally entrancing, their first pas de deux in Act Two (when they are doubling as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier) being the steal of the entire show.

Darren Goldsmith adds an eccentricity to his physicality that fits perfectly to his role as Herr Drosselmeyer. However, the costume choice does leave a lot to be desired, making him look more like a villainous child catcher, straight out of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, than a magical uncle from The Nutcracker.

Set and sound further enhance the atmosphere, the sights of Christmas trees and presents amidst the sounds of Tchaicovsky being enough to make even Scrooge smile.

For a totally flawless performance, it may be worth the company cutting down the traditional ‘Christmas party’ dances at the beginning of the show, and experimenting with lengthening more exciting and challenging segments of choreography.

But this ballet remains A Winter Wonderland, and this Nutcracker is definitely one to put on that early Christmas list!

- Rebecca Cohen



NOTE: Another FOUR STAR review from opening night.

Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker has captivated young audiences since1892.

The Northern Ballet Theatre’s version has Charles Cusick Smith’s elaborate set and a corps de ballet whose interpretation of national dances is second to none. I last saw it at the Palace in 2007 and I’m glad David Nixon OBE is still their artistic director, as hee ensures ripples of humour throughout.

Sinister and with magical powers, Herr Drosselmeyer makes a charismatic appearance. Whilst his cloak swirls around he swings his cane like a ballerina. He is the godfather of Clara, a child who opens her presents on Christmas Eve, only to discover, among other toys from ‘uncle’, a nutcracker doll.

Drosselmeyer is danced passionately by Darren Goldsmith whilst Pippa Moore takes on the leading role of Clara.  She gives some impressive solo performances.

The nutcracker takes her to a winter wonderland where she confronts the monster mouse king (Kenneth Tindall).   Then, in a magical moment, the nutcracker becomes a prince. Clara and her prince (Ashley Dixon) display some impressive leaps and spins as they dance together.

She and we enjoy watching the Sugar Plum Fairy (Julie Charlet) and her cavilier, (John Hull). Their pas de deux receives the greatest applause of the evening.

The composer’s well known music enhanced by John Longstaff’s arrangements and a live 28 piece orchestra are the perfect backing.

This is the first event I have seen with a Christmassy feel and it’s wonderful.

- Julia Taylor