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A Christmas Carol - Northern Ballet (Tour - Manchester)

The magic of Christmas comes to Manchester early and this ballet at the Palace Theatre is a treat, says Glenn Meads

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Northern Ballet have been touring this annual classic since early November. The final stop on the tour - Manchester - takes place as the temperature has started to drop and "it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas". And it turns out to be a perfect treat to take you into the frenzy of a busy December.

Scrooge (Giuliano Contadini) goes through life in a mean spirited way, pushing the less fortunate aside and keen to make money, whatever the cost for everyone else. Like many modern updates of this much performed piece, it's not long before Ebeneezer has a change of heart. Visits from Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, Future and Marley's Ghost teach him how to reassess the way he operates.

The choreography here creeps up on you. When the piece first begins, there is so much song and hustle and bustle to represent this busy time of the year, that one almost forgets this is a ballet. Then, as Scrooge starts to see how he could change, the movement takes hold. Scenes involving phantoms roaming around are very effective, as they have a scary feel to counteract the chocolate box appeal of the piece.

Javier Torres is delightful as the put upon Bob Crachit - the transition between his two narratives (under the thumb and pleased as punch) are beautifully explored. Lenny Kiss also steals many a scene as Tiny Tim.

The Orchestra bring Christmas to the venue with ease and precision and it provides the characters with a great mix of scary and sweet.

Sure, it might seem a bit early to be thinking about Crimbo, but Northern Ballet's A Christmas Carol does take you there with grace and marvelous movement. So surrender, because this is as familiar, moreish and as welcome as a box of Quality Street.