The Nutcracker

The Russian State Ballet Of Siberia

Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton

****

WELL, now I know how the Queen - or maybe the Tsar - felt on taking a seat in the royal box of a theatre for one of those command performances.

With the Grand virtually sold out for this Sunday performance of The Nutcracker by the brilliant Russians, I found myself viewing the action from one of the boxes perched above the orchestra pit.

So what's the problem? Firstly trying to overcome that self-conscious feeling when you furtively glance out to the auditorium and hold your breath because everyone seems to be looking at you and wondering if you are either important, loaded or just a poser.

As if struck by an invisible fist I slumped back into my comfortable seat and did my best to hide behind the box curtain as the excellent orchestra began to play some of Tchaikovsky's most beautiful music.

Then I discovered some of the benefits and snags of being so close to one side of the stage. First the bad news - there's a corner of the stage you can't see, no matter how hard you crane your neck.

But the good news is you have a wonderful close-up view of the dancers, you can see their expressions, even spot them in the wings as they prepare to come on, and you could count the wooden nutcracker's teeth as well as the King Mouse's whiskers! And should your attention drift from the stage, you can stare at various members of the orchestra.

The Nutcracker is a great ballet, normally around Christmas time but welcome any time. And the Russians do it justice with outstanding individual performances as well as delightful work from the corps de ballet.

The company stage Romeo and Juliet on 21-03-11 night and end their visit to the Black Country with Swan Lake on 22-03-11.

Paul Marston 

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