The Nutcracker

Lyric Theatre (Queensland Ballet)


Consider the characters from that Christmastime favourite tale The Nutcracker The Rats, a King, a Prince and a Princess. No, this is not an allegory for 2010 politics in Australia. It is a charming children’s tale fit to delight.

It is a night of triumph for Teri Crilly, who dances the lead role of Clara with youthful joy and exuberance. She leads us with vigour through a willing suspension of disbelief into a world of dreams and magic.

Ballet lovers used to seeing Rachael Walsh in the lead female role may take comfort from her magnificent performance as Clara’s older sister Sophia and as the majestic Snow Queen. Her dancing is a study in grace and beauty.

At a Christmas party Clara, the youngest child, is particularly fascinated by Drosselmeyer danced by Nathan Scicluna. His present to her is a nutcracker doll of her own. After the Christmas party the family retires to bed. Clara, still excited, comes back downstairs to play with the puppet theatre.

At the stroke midnight magic is let loose the room changes shape and enormous rats invade. The toy soldiers grow and, led by the nutcracker, fight and defeat the rats.

In the second act, Drosselmeyer’s magic leads Clara to be transported to the corners of the world. It is impossible not to love the clowns, the Chinese Dance and the famous Waltz of the Flowers. The climax of the second act is the Grand Pas de Deux Adagio danced masterfully by Clare Morehen and Christian Tatchev.

This is not a ballet of highly original, innovative choreography. It is a good old favourite for yuletide.

Tchaikovsky’s music remains as spellbinding as ever. The Queensland Symphony Orchestra plays beautifully under Andrew Mogrelia conducting. He returns next year for a ballet gala in April and for Swan Lake in December.

The gifted dancers in the corps de ballet demonstrate an admirable depth of talent in this company.

The original ballet story of The Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffman was considered too morbid for children, but Alexandre Dumas’s rewriting gives it optimism and happiness. In this story, unlike so often in life, the Rats do not win.

Choreography and Direction by Francois Klaus
Conductor: Andrew Mogrelia
The Queensland Symphony Orchestra
Set Designer: Graham Maclean
Costume Designer: Noelene Hill
Lighting Designer: David Walters
Music by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Choir: St Peters Lutheran College, Indooroopilly
Running time: 2 hours with a 20 minute interval
Performances from 11 to 18 December 2010

— Matt Foley
(Performance seen: Fri 10th December 2010)