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A Christmas Carol (Norwich)

Northern Ballet's revival at Norwich Theatre Royal has plenty to engage family audiences.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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The finale

Northern Ballet has revived Massimo Moricone's 1993 version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol for its autumn tour. His re-staging has all the verve of the original, with Carl Davis' eclectic score coming across as robustly as ever under John Pryce-Jones. Visually as well as dramatically it makes its points.

Sebastian Loe danced Scrooge at the first performance in Norwich, making his curmudgeonly personality clear from his first appearance (no need to growl "Humbug!" when every shoulder shrug and pointed finger says as much) and through the apparitions' visitations, until the reformed miser breaks into a helter-skelter of flashing steps radiating bonhomie in the last scene.

It's an excellent characterisation of an old man by a young dancer. Javier Torres was the nimble-footed Bob Crachit, miming as well as dancing well. Martha Leebolt's pas de deux with Tobias Batley as the young Scrooge flowed elegantly in contrast to the rumbustious goings-on by the elder Fezziwigs (Victoria Sibson and Ashley Dixon).

Pippa Moore drifted into Scrooge's bleak abode as Christmas Past. Isaac Lee-Baker resembled one of John Leech's original illustrations as the Pan-like pagan embodiment of Christmas Present while Joseph Taylor, deaths-head masked with money-bags at groin level and shroud-tattered wings, descended as the harbinger of Christmas yet-to-come.

I couldn't help feeling that a whiff of Oliver! pervaded the street scenes, as though Fagin was going to materialise out of the dark and the falling snow. This is a traditional, albeit short, three-act ballet with much to engage the family audiences at which it's so clearly aimed. As theatre, it works splendidly; lyricism is however in shorter supply.