BWW Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL a Merry Delight at Artscape Theatre
Cape Town City Ballet ends this year with their enchanting staging of A CHRISTMAS CAROL - THE STORY OF SCROOGE. CEO Debbie Turner describes this production as a "visual feast" and there is no doubt that this production's creative team and cast have done wonders in bringing a beloved holiday tale to a delightful new medium.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL follows the story of the miser Ebenezer Scrooge who is visited by the ghost of his late business partner, who warns him of being visited by three Christmas spirits. Based on the novella written by Charles Dickens in 1843, Veronica Paeper has used the CTCB and guest artists sublimely in this restaging of the classic tale.
Marcel Meyer as Scrooge is wholly memorable in this production, despite not saying a word. While he also may not be a dancer with the rest of the company, he is still choreographed in a way that fits seamlessly into scenes. Having last seen him in MACBETH, it's amazing how Meyer can be equally eloquent in A CHRISTMAS CAROL purely through facial and physical characterizations. He adds an empathetic air to Scrooge whose emotions fill up a scene superbly, which helps bring a sense of humanity to the character which is often missing in other interpretations.
Meyer is surrounded by the company of CTCB, and each member is passionate and well-rehearsed. Senior soloists Conrad Nussar and Xola Putye opened A CHRISTMAS CAROL on Saturday night as Charles and Dickens respectively, and their characters are used smoothly as, not only cheeky sidebars, but also clever scene changers. Standout performers include Hannah Ward, Kirstel Paterson and Stephen Underwood. Principal dancer Kirstel Paterson has featured roles throughout and she remains one of CTCB's strongest ballerinas. Ward, on the other hand, is a talented senior artist who was majestic as the Spirit of Christmas Past and Underwood is simply effortless in his movements.
The choreography may not be as challenging as seen in SLEEPING BEAUTY or as inventive as SATORI, but what A CHRISTMAS CAROL has achieved is Paeper working with dancers' strengths and showcasing talent in subtle yet impressive ways. Group numbers are particularly impressive as each dancer is given a rhythmic purpose that makes scenes an explosion of entertainment. There's also a wonderful air of enjoyment to A CHRISTMAS CAROL that is echoed in the dancers' expressionism; and I would say Paeper's choreography as well as the CTCB's energy is to thank for this.
The Artscape Theatre is the ideal space for staging A CHRISTMAS CAROL as it is intimate enough to indulge in the festive spirit, while also allowing the ambience of the production to be elaborate enough to inspire. Peter Cazalet's set design is charming and looks lifted from a Christmastime storybook. Costuming is also a feast for the eyes (sometimes quite literally) and the original costume design by Dicky Longhurst seen in the second act particularly is one that I will remember for a long time.
It's hard to leave A CHRISTMAS CAROL without a smile on your face. Whether it's the heart-warming story, graceful choreography set to enchanting musical arrangements, or simply a ballet dancer dressed as a mince pie, CTCB has successfully ended the year on a festively joyful note.
Photo credit: Pat Bromilow-Downing
A CHRISTMAS CAROL - THE STORY OF SCROOGE will be performed at the Artscape Theatre until 24 December. Tickets cost from R150 to R295. Bookings can be made at Computicket on 0861 915 8000, online at www.computicket.com or at any Shoprite Checkers outlet.
PLEASE NOTE: Performances on 24 December includes Fairy and Prince Fancy Dress Parade after each performance.