The Nutcracker Review

Grand Opera House York – Monday 2 Dec 2019

Reviewed by Michelle Richardson


The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky’s world famous ballet, was brought to life at York’s Grand Opera House by The Vienna Festival Ballet.

The enchanting story tells the tale of a Christmas party, which includes a slightly tipsy grandmother, where Herr Drosselmeyer presents Clara with a nutcracker doll. In the middle of the night she wakes up and goes looking for the nutcracker. What follows is a fantasy adventure of battles against giant mice and the Mouse King, which sees her nutcracker coming to life as a real soldier. The journey doesn’t stop there as they carry on through to the Kingdom of Sweets and the Palace of the Sugar Plum Fairy. After the interval we are treated to dances, a celebration of sweets around the world, before Clara wakes up, back to the real world, clutching her nutcracker.

This is quite a small company with the dancers taking on several roles. The dancing was at times was quite stunning, especially some of the chorus pieces. Children from a local ballet school were used in the first act as the children at the party, this must be such a fabulous experience for them, performing to a packed audience, with an experienced ballet company. The costumes were just lovely, though I couldn’t quite work out why the mice had grey heads and brown bodies, just a niggle there. 

It is such a shame that the dancers are not dancing to a live orchestra, as this would have been that extra sparkle and added to the experience, but the logistics and cost would just be too much and they did the absolute best with what they had. I did have a problem where I was sitting, in that I could not always see the dancers feet, which unfortunately did have an impact on my experience. It was still an enjoyable evening and so great to see a packed theatre thoroughly entranced.

This show is the perfect start to the Christmas season, a fairy tale brought to life.