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Nutcracker – English National Ballet

English National Ballet have long set the standard for the genre and their latest production of the Nutcracker continues that tradition. A seasonal favourite without doubt, set at Clara’s home as her parents are throwing a Christmas party.

The children play and enjoy the entertainment, but all changes for Clara when she receives her gift – a nutcracker doll. Adventures take her on an epic journey with her new toy, until she realises – it is but a dream.

As someone who has only been watching ballet for 10 years, I’m one of the first to be blown away by the beauty of the art itself and this oozes from every professional that graces the stage. English National Ballet have a world class company, dancers from all around the world, who really are some of the best there is.

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You can hear a pin drop in the auditorium throughout the entire performance, as the audience concentrate on taking in as much as they can of the spectacle before them.

Children from the Tring Park School for the Performing Arts make up some of the cast and it’s incredible to see the upcoming talent from within the ranks. In particular Amy Jones and Seamus McIntosh (playing Clara and Freddie as children) perform extremely well for their age – and not a foot is set wrong by a talented group of youngsters.

Everything is so impressive about the production. The grand, high quality set and set changes will leave you in awe on their own – making full use of a deep stage. The costume is full of stunning detail. The programme notes that each dress made for the Sugar Plum Fairy role takes a whole day just to produce the top skirt. This, I feel, is a fair reflection of the quality to each garment. Mice costumes are also convincing, as are their mannerisms!

Gavin Sutherland leads a large orchestra made up of the English National Ballet Philharmonic. Their sound is so pure and they accompany the action on stage perfectly.

Moving on to the ballet itself, the breathtaking talent on stage has to be seen to be believed.

Laurretta Summerscales and Emilio Pavan (Clara and Nephew) exquisitely lead an extremely strong cast. The story is presented well, but even the puppet theatre scene in Act 2 that allows for several ‘performances within a performance’ are entertaining too.

I could write so much in favour of this production. The beautiful choreography (Wayne Eagling), the set, the orchestra and the talent on display.

If you’re a fan of ballet, this production will be worth every penny of the ticket price. However if you’re not – I absolutely urge you to go along and immerse yourself. Ballet of this quality can be enjoyed by everyone – let it surprise you.

Nutcracker plays the Liverpool Empire until Saturday 3rd December. To book tickets visit: www.atgtickets.com/liverpool. Following this the production resides at London Coliseum, to book tickets, visit: ballet.org.uk

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