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A Christmas Carol – Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

Composer: Carl Davis CBE

Artistic Director: David Nixon OBE

Choreography: Massimo Moricone

Reviewer: Ray Taylor

[rating:5]

Northern Ballet - A Christmas CarolThere can be hardly anyone who is not familiar with the story of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, a lonely grumpy old man to whom Christmas is ‘Humbug’ and who has no charitable thoughts for anyone else. Then one night he is visited by the ghost of his former partner Jacob Marley and warned to mend his ways if he wants to avoid eternal damnation. On Christmas Eve he will be visited by three Spirits, the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future and, as a result, Scrooge is transformed into the kindest, most loving, most benevolent person you could wish to meet.

Charles Dickens’ tale has become part of the national consciousness and is the essence of Christmas. Indeed, the festival would not be the same without it. Northern Ballet obviously feel the same as they have been performing it regularly since 1992 and it is now one of their signature ballets, a standard in their repertoire. Anyone coming to this present production with an idea of what to expect from the story will definitely not be disappointed. It has all the ingredients you would expect and even manages to make the ghosts really scary! (perhaps too scary for younger children).

This production is truly spectacular in design, lighting, costumes, special effects and, of course, the sublime dancing and music. The Alhambra stage provides a huge performance space in all dimensions and the large company make full and effective use of it. Victorian London really comes alive in front of your eyes.

One difference in this production from the norm is that there is singing as well as ballet. There are a number of songs and carols that the cast perform which add a real dimension to the overall effect. The one number guaranteed to moisten many an eye is Tiny Tim’s rendering of “How Far Is It To Bethlehem?” beautifully performed by Oscar Ward.

Other cast members to note are Ashley Dixon as Scrooge demonstrating his gradual transformation really skilfully; Kenneth Tindall as Bob Cratchit; Hironao Takahashi as Young Scrooge whose pas de deux with Pippa Moore as Belle is beautifully moving; and Thomas Aragones and Hannah Bateman as Mr and Mrs Fezzziwig dancing with real humour and perfect comedic timing. This production includes, unusually, two intervals of twenty minutes each providing the audience plenty of opportunity for leg stretching and refreshment.

Photo: Bill Cooper

National tour ends Saturday 23 November.

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