Charles Dickens’ classic tale of ghosts, greed and goodwill is jazzed up in true Northern Stage style this Christmas, says Laura White.


If you’re looking for a Christmas show that’s not a panto but still fills your heart and lifts your spirits in the way only live performance can, then look no further. Northern Stage has a proud tradition of going its own way at Christmas, of taking much-loved tales and giving them a thrilling new twist, and this year is no different.

This festive season the spotlight falls on a story that’s been told many times before – on stage, on screen and even by the Muppets! But this is not the Scrooge of Christmases past. It’s been revisited by the spirit of Northern Stage and boy is it spirited.

Neil Bartlett’s adaptation stays true to the original with all the characters we know and love but director Mark Calvert breathes boisterous new life into it by setting his version in the 1920s. Think Peaky Blinders and the Great Gatsby and you get the idea of the set and costume design, while a new jazzy treatment of favourite Christmas carols helps to create a raucous musical backdrop.


Nick Figgis, whose theatre work has included War Horse, plays a superb scoundrel Scrooge. His transformation as he journeys through the past, present and future before finally realising the true meaning of Christmas was brilliantly believable and really had us rooting for him.

In keeping with Northern Stage tradition, the show’s musicians are integral to the telling of the story, with numerous cast members even playing instruments. New to the creative team this year is composer and musical director Hannabiell Sanders, whose performance in the show adds further magic. Originally from New Jersey USA, Hannabiel is well known in the North East for her band Hannabiell & Midnight Blue.


No matter how many times the story has been heard before, this fresh take on the tale makes it feel like the first. Haunting use of puppetry, lighting and choreography adds extra dimensions and there’s something really special about seeing a performance staged in the round when you’re so close to the action.

A story of human compassion, charity and second chances, Dickens’ classic is definitely a tale for our time and when better to be reminded of such things than at Christmas? It’s a show that will leave you not just feeling good, but wanting to do good too!


Absolutely everyone over the age of eight or so. The audience was mainly adult but there were lots of older children too. If you’ve younger kids, check out Northern Stage’s brilliant festive family performance that’s specifically designed for little wrigglers and chatterers. This year it’s The Three Bears at Christmas.


Showing now, until 5 January 2019.


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