Arts & Culture

14th December 2019

A Christmas [Nut]Cracker

English National Ballet Comes to Liverpool

The Christmas classic opened its doors in Liverpool this festive season following sell-out tours in 2017 and 2018 throughout the UK. With thousands of audience members young and old visiting in their droves to make The Nutcracker part of their Christmas traditions for another year, we thought it only right to pay a visit of our own.

Credit: English National Ballet Nutcracker (2019) Laurent Liotardo

Starring Emma Hawes as Clara and Fernando Carratalá Coloma as the Nutcracker himself, this 100-strong production brought this Christmas classic alive with exquisite dancing, jaw-dropping sets and Tchaikovsky’s iconic score played live to a sell-out audience at the Empire.

‘If you are looking for the best for your Christmas dance treat, this is it.’ -The Sunday Express

The Story of The Nutcracker:

For those unfamiliar with The Nutcracker, the production tells the story of Christmas Eve in a snow-tipped Edwardian London, and Clara’s family are hosting a big party, inviting all the family- including an old family friend, Dr Drosselmeyer and his nephew. Amidst the excitement, she receives an enchanted Nutcracker toy as a special present before the big day. Delighted, she plays with him until bedtime. However, upon going to sleep, a nightmare grips young Clara with a terrifying invasion of the Mouse King. Luckily, her faithful Nutcracker appears as a dashing soldier just in time to duel with the Mouse King. Injured, the Nutcracker and Clara escape in a hot air balloon to the enchanting Land of Snow where they watch a puppet-theatre performance with dancers from all over the world leaping out from the stage.

Adela Ramirez, Daniel-McCormick, Anjuli-Hudson in the Spanish dance. Credit: English National Ballet Nutcracker (2019) Laurent Liotardo

Having clung onto the balloon in his desperate pursuit of Clara, the Mouse King is finally defeated by the brave Nutcracker and Clara’s wit and the festive celebrations can begin. The puppet theatre disappears to reveal a beautiful garden in which snowflake dancers gather on stage to perform the Waltz of the Flowers. In the final scenes, the stunning dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy is performed by Clara, joined on stage by the handsome Nutcracker and the dancers from all over the world.

With a jolt, Clara awakens on Christmas morning to the realisation it was all a dream. She runs out the house just in time to see Dr Drosselmeyer and his handsome nephew leave as a small hot air balloon floats behind in the distance.

Credit: English National Ballet Nutcracker (2019) Laurent Liotardo

English National Ballet 2019: What’s New?

With stunning set design by Peter Farmer and lighting from David Richardson, the stage came alive with a plethora of glittering snowscapes and forests. Sweeping seamlessly from the Edwardian homes of London’s finest, to the magical theatre hosting dancers from around the world in Clara’s dream, The Nutcracker is a feast for the eyes.

Choreographed by Wayne Eagling, the dancers themselves brought tireless energy and passion to the stage, with each pirouette and flawless arabesque executed with precision and seemingly effortless grace. Tchaikovsky’s scores underpinned the evening in classic form, expertly performed by the English National Ballet Philharmonic to rapturous applause.

‘Fully deserves its place at the centre of Christmas celebrations.’ -The Daily Express

Dance of the Snowflakes. Credit: English National Ballet Nutcracker (2019) Laurent Liotardo

A truly magical night to kick Christmas off in style, The Nutcracker is a festive treat for all the senses; with passion, presents and pirouettes a plenty, it’s one not to miss!

For future bookings at the Liverpool Empire, Under 26s can receive £10 off Price bands A-C on Wed-Fri performances (A-B on Thu matinee.) Visit their website or call the Box Office on 0844 871 3017.

The Nutcracker tour continues to the London Coliseum from 11th December–5th January where students can receive £5 off tickets. Book yours here.

Take a look at previous reviews for performances at The Liverpool Empire here.

Feature Image Credit: English National Ballet Nutcracker (2019) Laurent Liotardo