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Review – Qld Ballet’s The Nutcracker 2021: a great antidote to the Covid19 blues

By Eric Scott

Christmas party time at the Stahlbaums - with the accent on children. Xirui Xu (centre) a Queensland Ballet Academy student was one of them. Photo by David Kelly

The Nutcracker

Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Choreography by Ben Stevenson

Queensland Symphony Orchestra Conducted by Nigel Gaynor

Queensland Ballet

Lyric Theatre

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

South Bank


Season: December 16-24. Bookings at or 136246

What a great antidote to the Covid19 blues this Nutcracker turned out to be – and what an insight to the depth of talent in the company. The Lyric theatre was packed to the gills with double-vaxed fans delighted to be in the theatre for the second night performance and it turned out to be big night for senior soloists who performed the most sparkling production I have seen over the years.’

It is such a pretty show to watch with fabulous costumes and beautiful choreography. All the dancers performed perfectly and were a joy to watch. The Sugar Plum fairy was danced by Mia Heathcote. She had terrific presence onstage and her dancing was superb with beautiful line and perfect balance and pointe work. She was partnered by Joel Woellner as The Prince. Interestingly it was the strength of partnerships that made the night outstanding, there was absolute trust on stage and it showed in every aspect of the dance.

The ballet is filled with many magical moments, comedy, and an element of simple fear for the children. The set is bright and stunning, it is fabulously lit (by David Walters and revival design by Cameron Goerg); the choreography is brilliant and in the festive opening dancers young and old mill around in thoroughly organised chaos at the Stahlbaum Christmas party.

The Stahlbaum children Clara and Fritz welcomed the guests while some mischievous boys caused trouble. Isabella Swietlicki danced Clara and she created a delightful wonder-filled child.

The magician Dr Drossellmeyer was danced by Victor Estevez. He was a dark character, a tricky conjuror with his magic tricks, and mechanical dolls, Harlequin and Columbine and the Nurse and Soldier. This provided a fun-filled interlude and the roles were realistically danced by Rian Thompson and Renee Freeman, as Harlequin and Columbine while the Nurse Doll was danced nicely by Sophie Zoricic, and her partner the Soldier Doll danced by Liam Geck. Sophie was also the lead flower dancer along with Zhi Fang.

After the children had unwrapped their gifts, Dr Drossellmeyer gave Clara her special present, the wooden nutcracker. Bad boy Fritz broke the figure but it was soon repaired. Fritz really landed in hot water when he gave Clara a box that contained a dead rat.

The party ended and Clara went to sleep and dreams.

The Nutcracker then came to life danced by Joseph Chapman, the rats crept in and the battle commenced in as the rodents took on the toy soldiers who with the aid of Clara won the slapstick battle.

After the fight the Nutcracker turns into a handsome prince (Vito Bernasconi) and he takes Clara off to the Land of the Snowflakes. This is an eerily beautiful setting where he dances with Georgia Swan as the Snow Queen stunned us with beautiful movement as they pair wove in intricate patterns through the enchanting Snowflakes.

Clara then flew to the Kingdom of Sweets in an enchanted sledge where she was greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy, who then brought on the entertainment, which was familiar and yet again so different in concept.

There were the Spanish Dancers and the gorgeous flowers, and the Arabian and Chinese dances and Liam Geck won loud applause for his acrobatic Russian dance.

Finally, after the proliferation of tutus and chiffon with the always gorgeous Waltz of the Flowers, which again showed some great precision dancing from the company, it was the turn of the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Prince to dance Grand Pas de Deux Adagio.

It was a delight to watch the pair at work.

Congratulations too go to QPAC on this first night of “no jab no entry” regime. There was no hassle, no queues, no arguments and everything was organized and smooth.

So get your jabs and book to see this one.