FOR many people, a trip to The Nutcracker marks the start of their festive season.
Almost 20 years since this production made its debut, it still has the power to wow the audience - many of whom I expect are annual visitors.
I saw the show for the first time last year and was pleased to go along again.
Now I admit it didn’t have quite the same impact this time, but there’s no doubt this is a spectacular affair - worthy of its reputation.
Even waiting to go in, you can feel the buzz - people have been looking forward to this.
The story centres on young Clara (Carol Anne-Millar), who is enjoying Christmas Eve with her family. The show opens in the luxurious surroundings of a Victorian manor a chance for the guests to show off their moves.
An intimate start, but things are about to get a whole lot bigger - quite literally.
When Clara creeps downstairs, after everyone is asleep, she finds the magician Drosselmeyer waiting for her. All of a sudden magical things start happening.
The stagecraft is astounding, we see a Christmas tree soar upward (or is Clara shrinking?). Within moments the canopy of a giant spruce hangs over the dancers.
Other treats include a rodent regiment, a mix of international dances and the breathtaking sight of the main character - flying through the clouds on the back of a snow goose.
Oh and then there’s the ballet. I can’t pretend to be an expert, but the crowd loved it.