On a bitterly cold Manchester evening, Northern Ballet conjured up a perfect festive glow with their interpretation of the classic Dickens tale A Christmas Carol.
The uplifting choreography and musical score evoked Victorian Christmas-time in an entirely new way, setting aside any doubts that the story might suffer without dialogue.
Giuliano Contadini played an endearing Scrooge, particularly outstanding in the transformation from a formidable, stooped old man to a joyful and energetic one.
The company effortlessly portrayed the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, his greed, his ghostly encounters and, finally, his merriment.
Elaborate costumes helped to set the scene, creating a stark contrast between the rich and the poor, not to mention offering a graceful alternative to leotards.
The ensemble of ghouls that accompanied the ghost of Jacob Marley, Scrooge’s first visitor, was one of the most memorable elements.
Climbing or shuffling onto the stage like zombies, they wore rags and had balding skulls with long, stringy hair.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come was equally terrifying – a huge, skeletal figure adorned in bedraggled angel wings.
A stand-out number was between Young Scrooge and the wife he might have had, Belle Fezziwig – gracefully performed by Tobias Batley and Martha Leebolt.
It demonstrated the moment in his past when Scrooge became truly miserable, so fixated on wealth that Belle no longer wished to marry him.
With the present Scrooge watching in despair, and accompanied beautifully by the Northern Ballet Sinfonia orchestra, much sniffling could be heard among the audience.
But the piece was not without comedy, Mr and Mrs Fezziwig’s slap-stick routine one of those wonderful occasions when skilled dancers act clumsy and clueless.
Northern Ballet’s production was a visual and musical feast, its ending as uplifting as the audience had eagerly hoped.
As the curtain fell on the joyful, snowy scene, it had certainly begun to feel a lot like Christmas.
For your festive fix, visit the Palace Theatre website for tickets.
A Christmas Carol is showing until Saturday 23 November.
Picture courtesy of Bill Cooper, with thanks.