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ENB Nutcracker at Milton Keynes Theatre

Published by: Alison Smith on 24th Nov 2016 | View all blogs by Alison Smith


Reviewed by Alison Smith 23rd November 2016 

The ENB Nutcracker ushers in the season of good tidings and joy. This ballet kindles  nostalgia, romance and, so as not to be too cloying for the adults or too frightening for the children, just a touch of terror in Mouse King and his ‘family’; nostalgia in the depiction of an Edwardian Christmas, romance in the dream of a beautiful young girl and a handsome prince, and terror when evil creatures appear. It is the tradition too, as in all fairy tales, that the ending is perfect; God is in his heaven and all is right with the world.

The English National Ballet does not disappoint on any of these details. The Edwardian Christmas in Act l is perfectly portrayed with an old-fashioned winter scene, skaters skimming (mostly) gracefully over the ice, their costumes classy, if a little dull.  And then indoors the atmosphere is warm and cosy; the Christmas decorations not too gaudy, the children, or the girls at least, well behaved. 

The young Clara is danced beautifully by Sophia Mucha; delicate and expressive she reveals all the emotions of a child at Christmas. It is Clara who is given a doll in the shape of a nutcracker by Drosselmeyer (Fabian Reimair), a family friend and uncle to the handsome boy of the romance. The older Clara was portrayed, on the evening I saw the production, by Alina Cojocaru. Ms Cojocaro captured the essence of a young girl on the edge of womanhood, a little gauche at times but spontaneous and passionate. Drosselmeyer’s nephew (Cesar Corrales) is a strong, athletic dancer, performing the most amazing grands jétés and sauts de basque seemingly effortlessly in his solo dance in the grand pas de deux with Clara. This is the pièce de resistance of the ballet, fairly traditional, but accomplished (a little fumbling in some lifts though) and tender; theirs is an excellent partnering. The third notable dancer is the nutcracker (James Forbat). I liked very much his fiery interaction with the mice. 

Mention must also be made of the corps de ballet. In the snowflake scene the dancers were crisp and graceful; as flowers they were in perfect unison. Act ll at the puppet theatre gives the opportunity for different styles of dance to be performed – Spanish, Arabian, Chinese. The most outstanding of these was the Russian dance by the male dancer (Ken Saruhashi) replete with travelling leaps. The children from Tring Park School for the Performing Arts were remarkable too, and added to the excitement of the performance, especially the boys on their hobby horses.  There were lots of touches of humour too – soldiers killed by cheese, Freddie in a strop, a forgetful grandmother and her long-suffering, if controlling, husband and the escape from danger by air balloon.

Of course the narrative is accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s marvellous score played by the ENB Philarmonic under the direction of Gavin Sutherland. Wayne Eagling, the choreographer, has merged the music and the steps magically and his talent is emulated by that of the outstanding dancers of the English National Ballet. 

This is one ballet not to be missed.


 ENB Nutcracker is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 26th November

 0844 871 7653

 Booking fee applies





1 Comment

  • Kate Braxton
    by Kate Braxton 1 year ago
    Sounds positively wonderful!
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