Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Australian Ballet does another Nutcracker

Damien Welch as Drosselmeyer. Photo by Jeff Busby
The Nutcracker
Performed by the Australian Ballet

The Arts Centre, State Theatre, Melbourne
September 18th, 2010

Almost exactly two years ago, I wrote a blog post having a bit of a whinge about how many times the Australian Ballet has recently programmed Nutcracker ballets. There are two in the current repertoire: Nutcracker – The Story of Clara by Graeme Murphy and a more traditional Nutcracker by Peter Wright. Having since seen both ballets performed brilliantly by the company I am prepared to recant my gripe, though in my heart of hearts I do still wish there was a wider variety of stories being told by ballet companies the world over.

So, if we must do Nutcrackers then let’s do them well, just as the Australian Ballet have done with this glorious version, originally created by Peter Wright for the Birmingham Royal Ballet. I mostly agree with Eamonn Kelly’s positive review in The Australian, the thoughtful design by John F. MacFarlane and some sensible narrative tweaks give this Nutcracker great authenticity.

In the matinee performance I saw on September 18, the casting for principal roles was superb. Damien Welch looks and acts every bit the imposing magician in Act One, and continues to anchor the narrative with his magnetic stage presence throughout Act Two. Miwako Kubota was delightful as Clara, giving a sweet characterisation and a very strong technical performance. Ty King Wall continues to impress, with his charming good looks he makes the perfect Disney Prince, which combined with his confident partnering and smooth allegro variation is a joy to behold. Danielle Rowe can’t seem to put a foot wrong, she is dazzling as the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Juliet Burnett also deserves a mention, ethereally beautiful as the Snow Fairy, and Daniel Gaudiello who stood out in Act One as Clara’s special friend.

This is the last season the Australian Ballet will present in Melbourne this year, so if you’re yet to see them, now’s the time to get to it! And for Sydney audiences, be sure to book early as I’ve not doubt that this Nutcracker will be another sell out for the company.

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