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Birmingham Royal Ballet - redesigned Nutcracker 2022


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Looking forward to hearing members’ thoughts on the newly designed BRB  Nutcracker which I believe premiers this afternoon. There’s an interesting insight from the Company which includes an interview with John Mcfarlane  about the redesigns and the way, over the years, the Company has ‘patched up’ the original costumes and sets. 

It would be lovely to have a livestream of this iconic production with a follow up dvd/blu-ray. The filmed version of this production from many years back, which features Yoshida and Mukhamedov, is very dark, and hard to get hold of on dvd . It’s well overdue for a new version. Interesting to learn from this insight that the Australian Ballet’s version (which has been filmed) has its own, unique design.
https://www.brb.org.uk/stories/zoom-insights-john-macfarlane-and-elaine-garlick-talk-about-the-rebuild-of-the-nutcracker

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56 minutes ago, Odyssey said:

Interesting to learn from this insight that the Australian Ballet’s version (which has been filmed) has its own, unique design.

 

I genuinely did not know this - I thought "ours" was the original BRB version!! I have the TAB recording with Miwako Kubota as the Rose Fairy and cannot wait for it to come back. On TAB's WBD feed they had past artists chatting favourite costumes from their careers, such as Marilyn Jones with La Capricciosa's ball gown from The Lady and the Fool, and Kevin Jackson with the pink Prince's jacket from this production.

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Yes unfortunately it always seems to start and finish early! I know most people complain about the huge amount of time given over to performing Nutcrackers in London but Birmingham seems to go the other way… though perhaps they do more matinees … I wish they would run it for at least one more week in the run up to Christmas anyway. It’s always difficult trying to organise things at this time of year as everybody gets so busy but trying to organise a trip across two families and only one lives in Birmingham can nearly prove impossible with such a short run!! 

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BRB is performing Nutcracker 24 times (which is about the usual) and RB 31.  

 

Don't forget that although BRB's home is considered to be the Birmingham Hippodrome that is also a receiving theatre and BRB has to agree potential schedules with the theatre management.  BRB has performed the Nutcracker over the Christmas period before now but the Hippodrome now seems to prefer a panto for the Christmas season.

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Yes, Janet, but this isn’t new for the Hippodrome. As far as I can remember, the Nutcracker season has always finished quite early in December with panto season, which is a long standing tradition at this theatre, starting pre Christmas rather than Boxing Day,  which is when I think many pantomimes get going. As you say, they pack a lot of performances into those weeks.

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21 minutes ago, Odyssey said:

Yes, Janet, but this isn’t new for the Hippodrome. As far as I can remember, the Nutcracker season has always finished quite early in December with panto season, which is a long standing tradition at this theatre, starting pre Christmas rather than Boxing Day,  which is when I think many pantomimes get going. As you say, they pack a lot of performances into those weeks.

 

Certainly the premiere performances were over the Christmas season and I think for a year or two after that but since then the performances have been earlier.  I thought most pantos started before Christmas these days...

 

Northern Ballet are performing their production of Nutcracker over Christmas at Leeds Grand this year for anyone who wants a Christmas fix of Nutcracker!

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I forget they might be touring it first!! 
This would be for a trip to Hippodrome

I was just looking up the Brighton Pantomime dates and discovered there are two this year! One at the Theatre Royal (Mother Goose) for just one week Dec3rd to 11th so very early and a very short run! Then there’s one at the Brighton Centre (Aladdin) which starts after Christmas on 27th but is just for five days as no performance on Christmas Day! 
So guess the Hippodrome is not so unusual but still wish the Nutcracker could run a bit nearer to Christmas say  until end of school term!! 

 

 

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BRB doesn't tour its Birmingham Nutcracker.  It was a gift from SPW to the City of Birmingham for giving the company a home.

 

This Nutcracker was performed in London once and at The Lowry once (both I think when the Hippodrome was closed for refurbishment).  The Royal Albert Hall production has (I believe) the same choreography but a different set due to the different performance space.

 

 

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1 hour ago, LinMM said:

Yes unfortunately it always seems to start and finish early! I know most people complain about the huge amount of time given over to performing Nutcrackers in London but Birmingham seems to go the other way… though perhaps they do more matinees … I wish they would run it for at least one more week in the run up to Christmas anyway. It’s always difficult trying to organise things at this time of year as everybody gets so busy but trying to organise a trip across two families and only one lives in Birmingham can nearly prove impossible with such a short run!! 

 

a rough count of Nutcrackers shows not much difference in the total number danced by each of our 4 leading companies giving:

 

RB 31 performances at the ROH (29 public plus 2 special (school & Paul Hamlyn childrens') 

ENB 31 performances at the Coliseum

BRB 34 performances (27 at the Hippodrome plus 7 at the RAH)

NB will perform the most, around 45 in total (21 in Leeds plus all the tour dates before that being some 24 performances)

 

RB shares the ROH with the Royal Opera so has to intersperse its dates with the Tosca & The Magic Flute hence the longer performance period.

BRB shares the Hippodrome with theatre so, as has been said, is succeeded by panto in mid-December hence the need to concentrate it's performances into a shorter time period.

 

 

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It’s probably more the timing of the BRB one at the Hippodrome than the total number of performances which actually take place which is the issue. 
In this instance for me personally the performances at the RAH are irrelevant…not that I wouldn’t go and see them there but none of the people I’m hoping to arrange it for live in London and only one lives in Birmingham ….but who it’s mainly for!! 

 

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15 minutes ago, LinMM said:

It’s probably more the timing of the BRB one at the Hippodrome than the total number of performances which actually take place which is the issue. 
In this instance for me personally the performances at the RAH are irrelevant…not that I wouldn’t go and see them there but none of the people I’m hoping to arrange it for live in London and only one lives in Birmingham ….but who it’s mainly for!! 

 

 

I hate to say this Lin but the Nutcracker has been these approximate dates for over 20 years now.  It was only the first few years where it was over the Christmas period.

 

Nutcracker 2023 is also now on sale for dates 17th November to 9th December with 26 performances to choose from.

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My relationship with Birmingham has probably only changed in the last three years though as a close friends daughter has moved there hence the desire to organise a Birmingham Nutcracker although I have been there on my own before so could go when I liked. Trying to unite people from Cambridge and Liverpool as well when we are all free 😳Maybe it does need organising a year in advance!!! 

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Sad to say, some of the performances I've looked at still have a lot of seats unsold :(  I'd have thought people might be rushing to see it in the "proper" production again, but I guess the economic situation must be having an effect.

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1 hour ago, alison said:

Sad to say, some of the performances I've looked at still have a lot of seats unsold :(  I'd have thought people might be rushing to see it in the "proper" production again, but I guess the economic situation must be having an effect.

I blame FIFA! (For putting the World Cup in Qatar- with the matches starting last night, it’s going to be competition for people’s time and attention, as Nutcracker is a family show.) The Wales-USA game is on right now. ENB, whose Nutcrackers are the last to begin on 15 Dec is the luckiest with timing as the World Cup finishes on 18 Dec. That said, RB’s first Nutcrackers from 6- 19 Dec are all sold out. (London and the south east do have a combined population of over 16 million, plus tourists on top of that).

 

It will be a wonderful show in Birmingham nonetheless. Wish I could go and see it! Celine Gittens, Brandon Lawrence and Reina Fuchigami are Sugar Plum, Prince and Clara tomorrow night; Beatrice Parma, Tzu-Chao Chou and Miki Mizutani on Wednesday  night. Two dream casts! Lucky audiences, whoever’s going tomorrow or the day after. 

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The Nutcracker

Birmingham Royal Ballet

Birmingham Hippodrome, 22 November 2022

*****

 

Cast

The Sugar Plum Fairy      Celine Gittens

The Prince                        Brandon Lawrence

Drosselmeyer                   Rory Mackay

Clara                                 Reina Fuchigami

 

Production:        Sir Peter Wright

 

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Sir Peter Wright created this production of The Nutcracker in 1990 as a gift to the City of Birmingham in recognition of the city’s generosity in offering the company a home.  It has been performed in the Hippodrome Theatre most years since then. It is an ideal way of getting into the Festive spirit early.

 

The 2022 performances mark the first performances of this iconic production since 2019 and during the intervening period it has undergone a full refurbishment.  All I can say is that it has scrubbed up well.  The scenery that we know so well is brand new and positively dazzles in its vibrancy.  The renewed costumes also look fabulous, perhaps with slight tweaks to the original designs making it even better.

 

The opening scene is particularly lavish with a large Christmas tree, grand staircase and fireplace dominating the scene.

 

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Sir Peter has kept the story fairly simple with act 1 having a lavish family Christmas Party with a magician, Drosselmeyer, providing gifts for the children and the magic tricks and automata.  Clara is presented with a ballerina doll by her grandparents and the Nutcracker doll by Drosselmeyer.  Her brother Fritz is presented with a box of toy soldiers by his grandparents and is very disappointed with the nut he is given by Drosselmeyer.  He and his friends keep trying to get the nutcracker doll and in a tussle the doll is broken but restored by the magician.  There is plenty of group dancing for the adults and children.  What I think is clever about this production is that Clara’s Mum is an ex-ballerina and Clara is a ballet student so that somehow makes sense of the dancing theme.

 

At the end of the party everyone departs.  Clara comes back down the stairs to retrieve the Nutcracker doll and suddenly Harlequin and Columbine (two of the automata) appear and are almost teasing her.  Rats appear and she is frightened.  Suddenly one of the arm chairs turns around and there is Drosselmeyer controlling the action.  He performs his magic and the magnificent transformation starts with the tree growing to unimaginably enormous proportions.  The toy soldiers and the Nutcracker come to life. 

 

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Eventually the fireplace grows and glows and provides a suitable entrance for King Rat.  The battle between the toy soldiers and the rats is exciting and when it looks as though King Rat is about to vanquish the Nutcracker Clara steps in and saves him.  The defeated rats disappear back into the fireplace and the soldiers disappear leaving the now human Nutcracker Prince lying unconscious on the floor.  He wakes up and sees Clara.

 

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The Nutcracker Prince and Clara have a ravishing duet that is so beautiful to watch you don’t actually notice the scenery changing to The Land of Snow.  The snowflakes have some beautiful choreography and the always serene Yijing Zhang was glorious as the Snow Fairy.  Act 1 ends with Clara being transported off stage by the four winds.

 

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Act 2 stars with Clara being flown to a magical land by a snow goose - another fabulous sight.  King Rat appears with some of his cohort but is again vanquished by the Nutcracker Prince and Drosselmeyer and is carted off stage in a giant cage.  The magician has organised a celebration - cue the national dances, and the waltz of the flowers.  The only changed dance I noticed is the Arabian dance, which is now a duet sensuously danced by Yaoqian Shang and Gabriel Anderson.

 

As the flowers finish dancing, Drosselmeyer asks Clara if she would like to be the SugarPlum Fairy and she says yes.  Amidst the swirling dancers Clara disappears and SugarPlum appears for the grand pas with the Prince.  At the end of the grand pas the dancers again swirl around and Clara reappears in the arms of the Prince as her own living room reappears and she wakes up…

 

The performance last night was absolutely pitch perfect.  Reina Fuchigami had just the right touch as a young lady still interested in dolls but gradually blooming to young womanhood.  Rory Mackay as Drosselmeyer brought a degree of the sinister to the role; he is a subtle actor which makes his performance all the better.

 

Brandon Lawrence was every inch the Prince and treated us to a warm and joyous performance with scintillating dancing.  Celine Gittens was diamond sharp, gracious and radiant as Sugar Plum.

 

All the cast looked as though they were having a fabulous time on stage and the orchestra, under the baton of Martin Georgiev, was magnificent.

 

This really is a 5* production with 5* performances.

 

(Photo credits:  Bill Cooper)

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5 hours ago, jmhopton said:

If only it could be filmed. Love the Muhamedov/Yoshida recording but it would be great to have a recent version,  especially with the refurbished sets and costumes.  Would love this cast too!

 

There is a relatively recent recording of this production (September 2014), by The Australian Ballet, with Benedicte Bemet as Clara, Kevin Jackson as the Prince, Madeleine Eastoe as Sugar Plum Fairy, Andrew Killian as Drosselmeyer, Miwako Kubota as Rose Fairy and Laura Tong as Snow Fairy.

 

Available on DVD and iTunes.

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I'm getting increasingly cheesed off with this.  I've been attempting for days to buy a bottom-price ticket (can't afford anything more, given the cost of the rail fare to get there :() for a performance of this, but they're all in twos, and the Hippodrome's system won't allow me to book only one of them, thus leaving a single seat.  This despite the fact that I can see that the system has allowed someone else to book leaving only a single seat!  This is single-ist :(  So I ring up the box office - on an 0844 number - (takes 3 minutes even to get through all the recorded messages) to ask if this can be done manually.  After sitting on hold for over 10 minutes, I suddenly find I'm cut off - my mobile plan apparently has a block on allowing me to run up more non-covered call charges, and just cut me off without even alerting me and asking me if I wanted to continue :(

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