Review: “A Christmas Carol”

Readers of this blog will know by now that one of my key interests is in ballet and dance.  I’ve been going to see things since I was really small, and though far from being an expert, I like to think I know a fair bit.  I was lucky to grow up in Edinburgh and so, thanks to the annual arts festival, had access to many leading companies that I otherwise would never have got to see.

On Thursday I went to see the Royal New Zealand’s final production of 2014, “A Christmas Carol”.  Yes it is only October, but the production will tour the country for a few weeks and finish up in December.  To be honest, I was not particularly looking forward to it.  First, I’m no fan of Dickens, second, I’m not keen on this type of ballet, preferring a bit more drama (eg “Swan Lake”) or abstraction.  I was also put off by the fact that the dancers were also required to sing at times, this after all is a ballet and not a musical.  However, the pre performance publicity material did its job in enticing me, and off I went as I always enjoy seeing ballet in any case.

The ballet was created for Northern Ballet in the UK, and is the first time it has been seen outside of Britain, so another reason for me to go.  It was first produced by Christopher Gable in 1992, with choreography by Massimo Moricone and music by Carl Davies.  The costumes and sets were designed by Lez Brotherstone and the lighting designer was Jon Buswell.

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The ghost of Christmas past

For me, the first act dragged a little, but the pace picked up as the evening went on. Paul Matthews made an excellent Scrooge, and Kohei Iwamoto as Bob Cratchit, was bright and lively in the role.  The whole piece though was a bit too saccharine for my taste, especially the singing Tiny Tim.  The ensemble pieces were well done though, and the audience enjoyed the comedy element of Mr and Mrs Fezziwig, danced with great energy by Rory Fairweather-Neylan and Bronte Kelly.  For me, the best elements were the ghosts, danced by Lori Gilchrist (Christmas past), Maclean Hopper (Christmas present) and Peng Fei Jiang (Christmas future).

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The ghost of Christmas present

I am glad I went, even though it was far from being a favourite piece.  The ballet suited the company well, the sets and costumes were excellent and it was a popular way to round off a slightly disappointing season.  However, next year’s productions look really promising with “Don Quixote”, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and a mixed bill to commemorate the Gallipoli landings 100 years ago which sounds particularly interesting.

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The Ghost of Christmas Future

 

All photographs courtesy of The Royal New Zealand Ballet http://www.rnzb.org.nz/

 

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