The Australian Ballet: Peter Wright’s The Nutcracker review #2

A second opportunity to attend this sumptuous presentation of Peter Wright’s The Nutcracker was too good to pass up, especially the chance to see popular Principals Adam Bull and Amber Scott in full flight.

*Man in Chair also reviewed the opening night cast, who were seen in the ABCTV screening of Peter Wright’s The Nutcracker: click HERE*

Troubled by the occasional misstep on opening night, the quality of last night’s performance leaves no doubt that the season has securely found its feet. Conductor Nicolette Fraillon keeps many tempi quite brisk, and yet the dancers prove more than up to the task, creating many a thrilling moment. Technical elements are also running smoothly, with the assortment of magic tricks playing their part in adding to the wide-eyed wonder invoked by the splendour of the dance. The short opening sequence of act two, in which Clara flies by white goose as rats materialise from the mist below, is breathtaking in its theatrical beauty.

Brooke Lockett is an absolute delight as Clara. Blessed with a delicately angular face that gives the appearance of a perpetual smile, Lockett gently colours the winsome innocence of Clara with a hint of burgeoning maturity. Lovely as her work is in act one, Lockett really comes into her own in the second half, as Clara participates in many of the well-known divertissements. Not to take anything away from the wonderful dancers on show, but Lockett commands absolute attention thanks to the dazzling combination of her superb dancing and highly polished presentation.

Peter Wright's The Nutcracker 2014 The Australian Ballet, Brooke Lockett

A master of the more tortured, yearning princes, Adam Bull effortlessly changes gears here as The Nutcracker’s contentedly noble Prince, complementing his magnificent dancing with a serenely pleasant outlook. In their all too brief moments of pas de deux, Bull is an ideal partner for Lockett, with the long limbs of both creating lovely clean lines.

Peter Wright's The Nutcracker 2014 The Australian Ballet, Adam Bull

Brett Simon plays down the menacing aspect of Drosselmeyer’s countenance, acting as ringmaster in a gentler, subtler manner.

Peter Wright's The Nutcracker 2014 The Australian Ballet, Brett Simon

In the climax of the evening, the quality rises by another notch as Amber Scott enters as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Scott and Bull prove something of a dream team, bringing utter confidence to the grand pas de deux. Scott conveys a distinctly fairy-like flutter in her rapid movement and regal grace. The pair’s super-fast dancing in the brief final pas de deux is nothing short of astounding.

Peter Wright's The Nutcracker 2014 The Australian Ballet, Amber Scott

Special mention of Benedicte Bemet (our Clara on opening night) who makes an excellent Columbine. The precision of Bemet’s sharp, crisp lines infuse the enchanted doll with just the right amount of cheeky humour.

The combination of school holidays and an earlier start time led to an abundance of younger theatregoers throughout the capacity audience last night. While most of the adults in attendance would surely have had some previous experience of The Nutcracker, the thought of the magical spectacle as seen through young eyes adds a fresh layer of wonder to proceedings. The experience surely creates a healthy number of lifelong fans of ballet.

The Nutcracker plays at State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne until 25 September 2014.

The Nutcracker plays Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House 28 November – 17 December 2014.

*Man in Chair also reviewed the opening night cast, who were seen in the ABCTV screening of Peter Wright’s The Nutcracker: click HERE*

Man in Chair’s 2014 reviews of The Australian Ballet:

Kevin Jackson and Madeleine Eastoe in The Nutcracker “Kevin Jackson brought a heroic nobility to the Prince, with his mighty quadriceps propelling him to great heights.”

Daniel Gaudiello and Madeleine Eastoe in La Bayadère “In the third of their act three pas de deux, the pair really soars, leaving no doubt of the power of their love.”

Adam Bull and Lana Jones in Imperial Suite “As a pair, Jones and Bull communicate in imperceptible shorthand that conveys trust and enhances their synchronicity.”

A range of artists in Bodytorque.DNA “Vividly representing the theme of all love being equal, Topp stages a rare pas de deux between two men, to the gorgeous sound of Faure’s Opus 50.”

A range of artists in Chroma “…the chief attraction here is the opportunity to see so many of The Australian Ballet’s wonderful Principal Artists on stage together.”

Adam Bull and Lucinda Dunn in Sir Kenneth McMillan’s Manon “In the final Melbourne appearances of her highly distinguished 23-year career, Lucinda Dunn makes a superb role premiere as Manon.”

A range of artists in 2014 Telstra Ballet in the Bowl “…a mutual opportunity for the dancers and the ballet-loving public of Melbourne to show their love and affection for each other.”

Photos: Lynette Wills (taken side stage)

Categories: Dance, Reviews

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