Music: Carl Davis
Choreographer: Massimo Moricone
Director: Christopher Gable
Reviewer: Seb Farrell
The Northern Ballet return to The Palace Theatre with what is now becoming their traditional Victorian festive favourite. The ballet is based upon the original 1992 choreography of Massimo Moricone and has become an audience favourite and the signature ballet of the company with good reason.
Undertaking the task of transforming one of the greatest pieces of literature into the vernacular of dance cannot be easy and a basic understanding of the story is almost essential to get you through it. The dramatic snow globe effect which starts the show is very impressive, the prologue which follows showing Marley’s funeral is slightly less so, a little to grim and unnecessary with no ballet and less plot momentum.
The drab gauze is finally lifted and we’re greeted by a traditional Dickensian London complete with smoking chimneys, frosted window panes and a ballet chorus of brightly dressed revellers, some a little too dressed up perhaps so their movements are hard to distinguish but the effect is pleasant on the eyes at least. The introduction of a lively Bob Cratchit (Javier Torres) really gets us going and the comedy elements with Scrooge (Giuliano Contadini) are delivered with expert timing and grace. After a short first act we’re hit with the first emotional punch of the evening as old Scrooge witnesses Young Scrooge’s (Tobias Batley) relationship breakdown and the subsequent haunting duo with Belle (Martha Leebolt).
The arrival of the three ghosts increases the energy again, the Kate Bush style movements of the Ghost of Christmas Past, the glitter throwing all smiling and waving Ghost of Christmas Present and finally the macabre Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come all slip into these famous parts and make them real without having to utter a single syllable. The movement is elegant and refined, almost effortless in execution and totally entrancing.
Heartstrings are pulled in all the right places by the most basic of human interactions, movement. The Cratchit family’s demise and ultimate redemption is given new life by showing each member of the family dancing with parents, forward and backward rolling together and eventually dancing a mournful and emotive piece about the loss of Tiny Tim, never deviating from the narrative only adding.
The music by Carl Davis is not always as festive as perhaps it could be but when combined with original carols, incredible dances and a believable well designed set, the overall result is very satisfying.
The real injection of festivities begins when the snow starts softly falling towards the end of Act 3 which also happily coincides with Scrooge finding his feet and dancing the dance of man reborn and revitalised, worth the wait. If you want a hit of pure Christmas festivities this show eventually delivers, make it your new Christmas tradition and get tickets while you can.