Review: The Nutcracker, Leeds Grand

Northern Ballet's The Nutcracker is at Leeds Grand Theatre this Christmas.
Northern Ballet's The Nutcracker is at Leeds Grand Theatre this Christmas.
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There are a wealth of Christmas shows vying for attention this year. Over at the West Yorkshire Playhouse there’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang complete with flying car.

At the City Varieties there’s a panto with added rock n’ roll and if you search out one production of Jack and the Beanstalk you’ll find a fairy godmother complete with tattoos, which might just be a first.

Amid all of these special effects and modern twists comes Northern Ballet’s unashamedly traditional production of The Nutcracker. It’s a festive favourite and in the hands of artistic director David Nixon you’d expect nothing less than a slick, stylish production.

Rachael Gillespie gets to play every little ballerina’s dream role of Clara and she is beautifully light and delicate. By contrast Lucia Solari as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Javier Torres as Cavalier inject power into the production’s second half.

Choreography-wise the company don’t put a step wrong and the second half, famously featuring dances from around the world, is a masterclass in the classics.

Nixon first created this production back in 2007 and set in Regency England. It was an opulent period, but there is one quibble - the set. Had a gust of wind blown through the Leeds Grand it could well have taken with it the rather fragile looking painted flat representing the exterior of the grand house and the interior was little better, looking like it was a panto cast-off from some years ago.

Of course it’s the dancing which is key and that is faultless, but come on Northern Ballet next time spend a bit more money on the set and you might just end up with a perfect production.

Sarah Freeman

To Jan 2.