Royal Ballet Nutcracker, broadcast live to the Phoenix Cinema, Oxford. Thursday 13 December 2012

This was the most enjoyable ROH – to- cinema transmission that I’ve seen. The children among the regular ballet audience gave the auditorium the buzz that’s sometimes lacking, and it was fun to be able to see detailed acting in the party scene close-up (not to mention Drosselmeyer’s magic tricks, which for the slightly myopic work better on screen than from the back of the Amphitheatre).

The rather cheesy introduction voiced-over in rhyming couplets was completely in the spirit of Christmas (“Christopher Carr” rather surprisingly rhyming with “de Valois”, and so on), and the backstage talk with Gary Avis (Drosselmeyer) was relaxed and humorous.

Clara (Meghean Grace Hinkis) and Fritz (Johnny Randall) stood out for their acting as well as their dancing, and the expansive breadth of Melissa Hamilton’s Arabian dance was elegantly supple without contortion. Most delightful of all was Roberta Marquez as the Sugar Plum Fairy, partnered by Steven McRae. Sprinkling her performance with smiles, at first she was “pétillante”, and then gradually sparkled more and more until finally she seemed to effervesce with happiness.

Maggie Watson

19 December 2012