Northern Ballet A Christmas Carol Alhambra, Bradford, 16 Nov 2013
The Bradford Alhambra is a lovely theatre in a magnificent position: just across the road from the National Media Museum, a few minutes walk from St George's Hall and overlooking the City Park with some of the finest 19th century architecture in the world. Bradfordians love to dis their city. I don't know why. "Try living here!" is their usual response when challenged. Well, perhaps. But I am glad to see when something important happens to their community they unite whether it is something bad like the anniversary of the disaster at Bradford City football ground in which 56 spectators died or something good when that same football club played triumphantly at Wembley a few days later.
And Bradfordians clapped and cheered their hearts out in the Alhambra last Saturday when Northern Ballet danced A Christmas Carol. As one of Bradford's most famous daughters tweeted, it was a "fine performance filled with joy." All my favourite dancers were there: Tobias Batley, Hannah Bateman, Matthew Broadbent, Martha Leebolt, Pippa Moore, Kevin Poeung, Hironao Takehashi and Javier Torres but the evening provided an opportunity for Sebastian Loe to shine as Scrooge. I had no idea that he was such a talented character dancer.
A Christmas Carol is one of the oldest works still in the repertoire of Northern Ballet. Created by the great dancer and actor Christopher Gable who was Northern Ballet's artistic director and also founder of Central School of Ballet with a magnificent score by Carl Davis, a spectacular set by Lez Brotherston and sparkling choreography by Massimo Moricone it was one of the ballets that made the company's reputation (another being A Simple Man which I discussed on 14 Sep 2013).
Based on Dickens's novel there are tugs for every emotion from Tiny Tim's song (a prodigiously talented Oscar Ward who is still at Sara Packham Theatre School) to the joy of Christmas morning when Scrooge doles out the goodies to the Cratchit family. Everyone has his or her favourite bit and for me it was the pas de deux between young Scrooge (danced by Batley) and Belle (danced by Leebolt).
The production is now at the Palace in Manchester until the 23 Nov. The company was founded in Manchester and has at least temporarily come home. Do welcome them back!