Theatre Royal Windsor
Reviewed – 12th November 2019
“A scintillating production which is absolutely spot on. A perfect tonic for grey winter days and an excellent introduction to classical ballet”
There could be no more perfect ballet for the beginning of the Christmas season than the eternally popular Nutcracker, first performed in 1892 with a sparkling score by Tchaikovsky. This week Windsor Theatre Royal has a brief residency by the Vienna Festival Ballet, which is touring the production extensively until the middle of December.
The company was founded in Brighton in 1980. Its artistic director Peter Mallek named it after his home town where he danced leading roles with the State Opera. The company receives no subsidy and specialises in touring the grand classical works, amongst them Swan Lake, Cinderella and Snow White. Forget Matthew Bourne and expect pointe shoes, pirouettes and arabesques and grands jetés. The costumes are sumptuous and include designs by Vonnie Meyrick-Brook (Harry Potter and Skyfall). The choreography is the company’s own, in a revision by Emily Hufton of a version from 1981 by Uruguayan Ruben Echeverria who studied with the Bolshoi.
The ballet begins with a child’s Christmas party at which Anna is presented with a nutcracker doll by her mysterious uncle Drosselmeyer (performed by the impressive Dario Sanz Yagüe). At midnight the toy is transformed into a dashing prince who leads her on a series of entrancing adventures, culminating in a breathtaking sequence of dramatic set pieces at which she meets a series of visitors from all corners of the globe.
Tchaikovsky’s romantic music is here presented in a recording. The composer, who struggled to like the ballet, extracted a very popular orchestral suite from the ballet score. It contains a handful of lush and instantly recognisable tunes, by no means least amongst them The Dance of the Reed Pipes, once used by Cadbury to sell its fruit and nut chocolate.
A young and energetic company drawn from around the world perform magnificently in a scintillating production which is absolutely spot on. A perfect tonic for grey winter days and an excellent introduction to classical ballet.
Reviewed by David Woodward
Theatre Royal Windsor until 16th November then UK tour continues
Previously reviewed at this venue:
Sadler’s Wells Theatre
Reviewed – 13th December 2018
“Wild and vicious, curious and testosterone fuelled, like creatures from an ancient myth made flesh”
This restaging of Matthew Bourne’s iconic Swan Lake is superb. It is wild, funny, vicious, lyrical and heartbreakingly beautiful. The first incarnation of the show was in 1995, and it caused quite a stir, replacing ballerinas in tutus and feathered headdresses with muscular male dancers, but it won the hearts of audiences straight away, encouraging more young men to become dancers, and building a new audience for ballet. The audience tonight was enthralled throughout, with that incredible stillness that only the very best in theatre and dance can create. And when the curtain came down the standing ovation was total, instant and long. We didn’t want to let the dancers go.
Dancing the Swan and the Stranger tonight was Will Bozier. He is powerful and irresistible as the sexy, leather trousered stranger at the Royal Ball, and compelling as the Swan, inhabiting the strange avian otherworldliness of the choreography with passion and strength. Dominic North’s Prince is a fish out of water at the court, a lost young man who we immediately feel for. His first sight of the Swan is electric, and his joy when they finally dance together is palpable and moving. His acting is extraordinarily good, and gives his character a reality that is rare in dance.
Carrie Willis, as the girlfriend is a treat. She is a TOWIE princess, at sea in the Royal world, annoying, sweet, hilarious and loveable. Even when dancing in the ball scene she kept her quirky character intact. Katrina Lyndon is fabulous as the queen, clearly enjoying male intention, particularly when the Stranger arrives, and incapable of understanding her son. The female ensemble are strong, and when the smouldering, sexy stranger arrived, they approached him, there were no shrinking violets here, they knew what, or rather who, they wanted. And they managed to dance it in heels.
The power of the ensemble of swans is extraordinary. The sound of bare feet on the stage, their audible breathing, the hissing…. Wild and vicious, curious and testosterone fuelled, like creatures from an ancient myth made flesh.
Lee Brotherson’s design creates the world of the court, the street and the seedy club with an atmospheric and vivid aesthetic, beautifully complemented by the drama of Paule Constable’s lighting design. Its always good to have a live orchestra, and Tchaikovsky’s music is still running through my mind as I write. Matthew Bourne and his team have created a masterpiece. I hope it will live on for many more years.
Reviewed by Katre
Photography by Johan Persson
Sadler’s Wells Theatre until 27th January
then UK Tour continues
Previously reviewed at this venue: