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The Nutcracker

I’m always keen to try something new, and three years ago (when I reached my half century!) I decided it was high time I went to the ballet… it wasn’t something I’d participated in as a child, so that might have been why it had never featured on my ‘entertainment bucket-list’. I’d seen that the Russian State Ballet of Siberia were coming to The Ipswich Regent, so I bought a ticket and headed off to see the iconic Swan Lake.

I was utterly enchanted, so the next year I saw Sleeping Beauty (from the same company, they visit in March every year) and this year I topped it all off with the most colourful and festive celebration of The Nutcracker & Mouse King. What a treat for the soul!

The Russian State Ballet dancers took to the stage in the most glorious costumes and were accompanied by their own orchestra, playing Tchaikovsky’s iconic music beautifully.

The story starts on Christmas Eve, with snowflakes falling outside (very apt for our audience on a cold March night!) in a large grand house owned by the Stahlbaums, where they are hosting their annual party. Young Clara, the daughter, receives the gift of a wooden nutcracker which she is absolutely delighted with – but her jealous brother Fritz breaks the toy and she is heartbroken. She goes to bed but cannot sleep and goes to check on her Nutcracker – and this is when the whole stage really comes to life!

The Nutcracker becomes human and fights a battle with the Mouse King, who is finally defeated by Clara herself – and then her Nutcracker transforms to a handsome Prince who takes Clara on a beautiful journey; first to The Land of Snow (where the dancing snowflakes are beautifully emulated by the ballerinas in sparkling white tutus) and then to The Land of Sweets, where we are treated to a feast of dances.

It’s this feast of dances that feature some of the more well-known of Tchaikovsky’s work – the Dance of The Sugar Plum Fairy, Tea (The Chinese Dance), Trepak (The Russian Dance) and of course, the instantly recognisable Dance of the Mirlitons (for those that might remember Frank Muir and his Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut bar from the 1970’s!).

The whole evening was topped off for me by the beautiful Waltz of The Flowers with an all female cast wowing the audience and a final flourish where The Sugar Plum Fairy dances the final pas de deux with the handsome Prince – the audience was enraptured – and I left The Regent feeling I’d been transported through countries and through time.

The brilliant Russian State Ballet of Siberia are playing a couple more evenings here at Ipswich so catch them if you possibly can – if you’re a fan of a fouetté, love the work of Tchaikovsky, or just enjoy a colourful, joyful evening out, you won’t be disappointed!