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BRB Nutcracker streamed from Birmingham Rep 18 Dec 2020


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I really enjoyed this - I hope they heard me clapping through my laptop!! Thrilled to see again the wonderful partnership of Momoko Hirata and Cesar Morales, who I loved so much in Giselle last year and who danced really beautifully tonight. The adapted production worked really well and was still so rich and magical. Jonathan Payn was a commanding Drosselmeyer and Karla Doorbar a sweet Clara. Brilliant.

 

Also delighted that it was dedicated to Marion Tait (and there was a really good interval film about the production, including an interview with her).

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This was so much more than a Nutcracker performance for me. It symbolised something so hopeful after this year which has been so dreadful in many ways. To see the BRB dancers I have come to know well -  over the years of seeing them dance around the country - dance this spectacular work of the ballet canon, and hear Tchaikovsky's marvellous score played by the superb RB sinfonia, was truly joyous. And to know that this is happening NOW - just made it seem certain that some things can never be destroyed. Emotional.  

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My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed tonight’s live performance of BRBs Nutcracker as it is the last time we will watch our beautiful daughter dance. She is an Elmhurst 2020 graduate who cannot take up the ballet company contract, offered to her in March in the US, due to Covid so is unemployed. The future is bleak for her and her graduate friends 😢 This is her third BRB Nutcracker as well as other performance opportunities with the company. It has been one hell of a ride. She has sort out and grasped every opportunity that has come her way but this is very sadly the end of the road.  It was a truly lovely production this evening. Well done Brb 👏  

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6 hours ago, cotes du rhone ! said:

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed tonight’s live performance of BRBs Nutcracker as it is the last time we will watch our beautiful daughter dance. She is an Elmhurst 2020 graduate who cannot take up the ballet company contract, offered to her in March in the US, due to Covid so is unemployed. The future is bleak for her and her graduate friends 😢 This is her third BRB Nutcracker as well as other performance opportunities with the company. It has been one hell of a ride. She has sort out and grasped every opportunity that has come her way but this is very sadly the end of the road.  It was a truly lovely production this evening. Well done Brb 👏  

 

I really hope that new paths will open up for your daughter in the coming year, cotes du rhone! It was a beautiful performance last night of which she can be justly proud. 

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I enjoyed this version ... having not seen any prior versions by BRB I had no idea what had been cut and so there was no disappointment.  I am enjoying getting to know the BRB dancers as it’s a company I’d not followed before the pandemic.  
 

I liked how the Sugar Plum doll became the Sugar Plum Fairy ... that makes so much sense if Act 2 is Clara’s dream 👏. And creates an extra treat to see Momoko Hirata in two roles.  Alys Shee as the snow fairy was particularly engaging, as was Eilis Small in the dual roles of mother and Arabian.  
 

And the costume for Jack-in-the-box is fabulous -  mesmerising!

 

How hard it must be to perform without any audience and no feedback ... but this is the current situation for so many companies.  I don’t know if it was an adaptation for this purpose ... I liked the bows to Clara throughout the second act and desperately wanted there to be actual applause, if only from her.

The presenter was excellent .... could someone tell me who she is?  I missed most of the intro ... as I didn’t notice the sound button was off! 
 

Thank you BRB 🙏

 

Edited by FionaE
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I felt ridiculously emotional when I watched last night's streaming.  It's not as though I haven't watched all the other BRB streamings and was even lucky enough to see the company live in the Lazuli Sky programme in Birmingham as well as the streamed version.  Perhaps it is because SPW's production was made as a gift for the City of Birmingham when the company moved to the city in 1990 and is such an integral part of their rep in that city now.  (At one of the Evening of Music and Dance performances David Bintley, during his compering duties even joked he had received death threats when a different Christmas season was announced one year!).

 

Anyway, given that the Rep stage is a pocket handkerchief compared to the Hippodrome I thought it was a fantastic reinterpretation for these constrained times.  I should have been seeing it live on Tuesday afternoon so it really was poignant to be sitting down watching it on a small screen and knowing that friends I would have been sitting with in the theatre were also watching.

 

Ross McGibbon's filming was a masterpiece in its own right.  Obviously the usual tree transformation could not take place but the way he filmed that section I have to say that I didn't really miss it!!  Although I usually sit on the front row in the theatre to watch the performance the filming close-ups gave us an even better opportunity to watch the dancers.  There were fewer party guests and only Fritz and his friend so some of the dances were missing from Act 1.  In act 2 we lost the Mirlitons and the Waltz of the Flowers.  There were some other minor changes but I won't spoil it further for anyone who has not yet seen the production.

 

I loved the fact that Clara was given a pair of ballet shoes rather than the traditional princess doll and I loved Fritz' Rat King toy.  (I don't know if it is a permanent change but I much preferred the men's headscarves in the Arabian too.)

 

What can I say about the performances - just WOW!!  It must have been so hard for the dancers performing without an audience but you never would have known.  Karla Doorbar was exquisite as Clara - it was fabulous seeing the closeups of her facial expressions.  Cesar is every inch the elegant, romantic and caring Nutcracker Prince and Momoko was utterly fabulous as Sugar Plum.  The whole cast fizzed and sparkled like the best vintage champagne.

 

The interval feature was rather lovely and the whole performance was dedicated, most appropriately, to the incandescent Marion Tait.

 

Bravo BRB!

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1 hour ago, FionaE said:


The presenter was excellent .... could someone tell me who she is?  I missed most of the intro ... as I didn’t notice the sound button was off! 
 

 

 

Shireenah (I don't know her family name) played Lady Capulet in the Bally Hoo version of Romeo and Juliet. She was remarkable then too.

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1 hour ago, capybara said:

 

Shireenah (I don't know her family name) played Lady Capulet in the Bally Hoo version of Romeo and Juliet. She was remarkable then too.

She certainly was, I watched Ballet Hoo on Facebook for first time last week.

Edited by northstar
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Thank you to all for replies .... Shireenah Ingram.  She deserves another round of applause  👏👏👏

 

I would prefer her any day over those dreadful presenters Rani ... and Bussell.  Just because she’s a dame doesn’t mean she should be presenting.  Even her one-to-one interviews are cringey.  She should stick to coaching.

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So I streamed this. I live in the States and my only knowledge of Peter Wright's Nutcracker is the Royal Ballet version. I'm not fond of that one. I watched this one and was stunned at how beautiful and imaginative this version is. Wow. So glad I streamed this.

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6 hours ago, Ivy Lin said:

So I streamed this. I live in the States and my only knowledge of Peter Wright's Nutcracker is the Royal Ballet version. I'm not fond of that one. I watched this one and was stunned at how beautiful and imaginative this version is. Wow. So glad I streamed this.


For me, the standard, normal times, version in Birmingham is absolutely the best Nutcracker bar none!  The transformation scene has to be seen to be believed.

 

I loved this streaming because, despite the constraints, it still delivered the magic due to the clever filming.

 

I’m so glad you enjoyed it Ivy.

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Any live ballet at present is to be welcomed, so well done BRB. Like others  I thought the lack of applause was sad, given that there was some beautiful dancing on show.

I was disappointed about the missing dances already mentioned, also that the SPF solo finished without her last fast section, and there was no Coda with the Prince, they just went straight into the finale. Is that normal for the BRB version?

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2 hours ago, Richard LH said:

Any live ballet at present is to be welcomed, so well done BRB. Like others  I thought the lack of applause was sad, given that there was some beautiful dancing on show.

I was disappointed about the missing dances already mentioned, also that the SPF solo finished without her last fast section, and there was no Coda with the Prince, they just went straight into the finale. Is that normal for the BRB version?

 

No, we usually get the whole thing.  I don't know why that section wasn't shown.

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What does the Telegraph critic want???  Another mealy mouthed review is included in Today's Links.

 

For heaven's sake we are so very lucky that BRB have been able to do this streaming and obviously there are going to be changes to the performance but sadly it is the position the world has found itself in at the moment.

 

Well reading that review has not dampened my enthusiasm for what BRB has achieved!

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16 hours ago, Ivy Lin said:

So I streamed this. I live in the States and my only knowledge of Peter Wright's Nutcracker is the Royal Ballet version. I'm not fond of that one. I watched this one and was stunned at how beautiful and imaginative this version is. Wow. So glad I streamed this.

 

Lovely version, I agree, Ivy, Jan et al.

 

If US ballet-film collectors have international all-format DVD players, they’ve had access to the 1994 BRB film for 20+ years:

https://www.amazon.com/Nutcracker-Tchaikovsky-Peter-Wright-Mukhamedov/dp/B001E181WS

 

We also  have the same production, in same glorious designs by McFarlane - filmed more recently, in better light - by The Australian Ballet (region-free PAL):

https://www.amazon.com/Australian-Ballet-Nutcracker-DVD/dp/B01DRYRYQ8

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Jeannette
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4 hours ago, Jeannette said:

If US ballet-film collectors have international all-format DVD players, they’ve had access to the 1994 BRB film for 20+ years:

 

Just to add that there was a region 2 version. I picked one up on eBay last year so it is worth looking out for. It has the wonderful Yoshida as Sugar Plum with Mukhamedov guesting. I was fortunate to be in the audience the evening of the recording, so I was pretty pleased to track it down having previously had a pretty poor video recording.

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9 hours ago, Jan McNulty said:

What does the Telegraph critic want???  Another mealy mouthed review is included in Today's Links.

 

For heaven's sake we are so very lucky that BRB have been able to do this streaming and obviously there are going to be changes to the performance but sadly it is the position the world has found itself in at the moment.

 

Well reading that review has not dampened my enthusiasm for what BRB has achieved!


I haven’t read The Telegraph review. I know what I thought of BRB’s simply lovely streaming and I don’t need to tangle with his opinion.

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Just watched this, and thought the filming was stunning - and possibly quite cleverly done to disguise the lack of dancers on stage.  For most of it, I wasn't aware of the Covid-secure precautions (certainly not in the party scene), although there were a few times in Act II when things did look a bit sparse.  I still think this is about the best Nutcracker in captivity, even without the growing tree.  I did wonder to what extent they'd combined elements from the Royal Albert Hall production as well, but as I'm not that familiar with the production it was difficult for me to tell.  Forget about the RB version for a few days if you have to, but don't miss this one!

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Interesting comment from David Mead in his review in today's Links, that maybe this version could form the basis of a Nutcracker production that could be toured (whereas the standard production is too big). 

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What a beautiful production, and how clever and imaginative to offer it to the public in this format! I bought the on-demand stream, and watched last night. Despite the lack of audience and applause it still managed to be absolutely magical and it raised my spirits no end. I loved Karla Doorbar’s wide-eyed, eager Clara, and her pdd with Cesar Morales’ nutcracker prince was all kinds of gorgeous. The snowflakes scene was utterly lovely too, especially the radiant Alys Shee. I am a huge fan of the partnership of Cesar and Momoko Hirata, and despite a shortened grand pdd, I was still enraptured. Thank you so much to all at BRB and Birmingham Rep who worked hard to make this happen. 

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On 19/12/2020 at 09:32, Jan McNulty said:

In act 2 we lost the Mirlitons and the Waltz of the Flowers. 

I'm a bit confused by this. Having already read that these two dances were cut I assumed it was to reduce the number of people on stage. I was then very surprised when watching thise evening to find there were 4 Mirlitons & 8 Flowers who sat around the stage for the grand pas & did a very small amount of dancing. If the dancers were allowed to be there, in terms of number of people on stage, then why not have them do their dances? Other than that, the main thing I missed from the proper production was the full transformation scene. I was pleased not to have Clara turn into the Sugar Plum Fairy, as I prefer productions where they remain two separate characters.

ETA Oh and I was also a bit confused that the interval feature interviewed Samara Downs when she wasn't in the cast that were filmed rather than any of the dancers who were in the cast.

Edited by Dawnstar
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I have just watched the BRB slimmed down version which on the whole I thought was remarkably well done. This is indeed a special production and it must have been so difficult to adapt it to the Rep. ( I may have got this wrong, but I think the original plan was to run it at the Alex theatre, so if that is the case there must have been much reworking over the last couple of months to stage it in yet another theatre).  I agree with Dawnstar regarding the absence  of what is probably the best known music of the ballet, and having the Flowers and Mirlitons present only serve to remind you of the omission. The choreography of the snowflakes in this production is so effective and the camera work helped to appreciate just how good it is. I’d be interested to know what others, who know this production, thought of the backdrop in act2. After doing a remarkable job with the rich colours of act 1and the evocative lighting for the snowflake scene, I thought the painted squiggles and sun was a crude and poor substitute for McFarlane’s bold and vibrant flowers and constantly shifting, mirrored reflections. That apart, I thought the company performed well all round and the BRB Sinfonia sounded great. It is truly remarkable that BRB have been able to bring this together.

 

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