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|A CurtainUp London Review
"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the tree tops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow." — Lyrics to "White Christmas"
This production of White Christmas has been touring since its inception in the UK in Plymouth in 2006. Irving Berlin's tunes are wonderful even if the musical plot is a little dated. This production stars, as Bob Wallace, Aled Jones, known for his recording as a child chorister of the theme from The Snowman "Walking in the Air". He has a superb tenor voice but his stage presence makes him look not as if he is treading the boards but as if he is the board. This made me want to close my eyes and just listen to his lovely voice.
Rachel Stanley as Betty and Aled Jones as Bob (Photo: Alastair Muir)
Tom Chambers who was nominated for an Olivier for his role as best actor in a musical for Top Hat takes the other male lead, Phil Davis. He won the sixth series of the BBC celebrity dance contest Strictly Come Dancing. The dance is from original choreographer Randy Skinner and is a highlight of the show with Tom Chambers demonstrating Fred Astaire type skills. Chambers is tall dark and handsome and we can understand why Judy falls for him.
The two sisters Betty and Judy Haynes (Rachel Stanley and Louise Bowden) delight both as singers and dancers in the famous song "Sisters". British soap star Wendi Peters can really belt them out as Martha the concierge of the Vermont hotel run by Bob and Phil's old commanding officer from the army (Graham Cole).
The dance number for " Blue Skies" has the men in cream suits with hats and the girls in the same outfits without the trousers and of course the famous backdrop of blue skies! "Sisters" has the girls with enormous ostrich fans and surprisingly fully clothed behind the fans as they sing about sibling affection. Look out too for the tap dancing in "I Love A Piano"which opens the second act.
Many of the songs are classics, well known songs from "Count Your Blessings", "How Deep is the Ocean"and of course the title song, "White Christmas" and the closing number "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm". While Aled Jones can sing I couldn't see any sexual chemistry between him and Betty and his stage posture is rather unbending and solidly square. Perhaps he needs some Val Doonican cardigans instead of the grey suits. Gone are the days when even in the opera the public were prepared to listen to beautiful music coming from those who didn't act.
The sets are fit for purpose, the train carriage, the dressing room, the New York nightclub, the hotel lobby but no more exciting than that, although when the barn doors open, the snow is spectacular. Did I mention the snow machine blowing snow onto the public as they arrive for the show to get us into the seasonal spirit? Looking at the pictures of the New York costumes, they look identical to the London ones, lots of red and white with all the fur trimmings and quite lavish. I suspect they may all be copies from the 1950s film.
You can be completely safe taking children and the generation who doesn't like risque jokes or bad language to see White Christmas. While White Christmas probably won't win any awards, it will give a large number of people a feel good Christmas treat with some of the feel, song and dance of a big Hollywood musical.
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Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin
Book by David Ives and Paul Blake
Based on the Paramount Pictures film
Directed by Morgan Young
Original US Production directed by Walter Bobbie
Starring: Aled Jones, Tom Chambers, Jonathan Halliwell, Graham Cole, Rachel Stanley, Louise Bowden, Wendi Peters, Tatum Confrey/Sophia Pettit/Emily Robbins/Amy Snudden
With: Brendan Cull, Vikki-Marie Ryan, Lucinda Lawrence, Michelle Bishop, Vicki Davids, Ross McLaren, Matthew Cheney, Lori Haley Fox, Phil Cole, Stuart Winter
Children: Grace Doherty, Annie Guy, Gemma Fray, Ivy Pratt, Harry Marcus, Ben Mineard, Tommy Rodger, Josh Shadbolt
Set Designed by Anna Louizos
Costume Design: Carrie Robbins
Choreographer: Randy Skinner
Vocal and Dance Arrangements: Bruce Pomohac
Orchestration by Larry Blank
Musical Director: Andrew Corcoran
Sound Design: Clement Rawling
Video Design by Treatment
Lighting Design: Ken Billington
Running time: Two hours 50 minutes with one interval
Box Office: 0845 200 7982
Booking to 3rd January 2015
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on November 12th 2014 performance at the Dominion, Tottenham Court Road, London W1P 0AG (Tube: Tottenham Court Road)
Preceded by White Christmas sung by Ralph Sheldrake
Happy Holiday / Bob Wallace and Phil Davis
White Christmas /Bob Wallace, Phil Davis, Ralph Sheldrake and Ensemble
Let Yourself Go / Bob Wallace, Phil Davis and Ensemble
Love and the Weather / Bob Wallace and Betty Haynes
Sisters / Betty Haynes and Judy Haynes
The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing / Phil Davis, Judy Haynes and Quintet Member
Snow / Bob Wallace, Phil Davis, Betty Haynes, Judy Haynes, Mr. Snoring Man, Mrs. Snoring Man and Ensemble
What Can You Do With a General? /Martha Watson, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis
Let Me Sing and I'm Happy / Martha Watson and Ensemble
Count Your Blessings /Bob Wallace and Betty Haynes
Blue Skies / Bob Wallace and Ensemble
- >I Love a Piano / Phil Davis, Judy Haynes and Ensemble
Falling Out of Love Can Be Fun / Martha Watson, Betty Haynes and Judy Haynes
Sisters (Reprise) / Bob Wallace and Phil Davis
Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me/How Deep Is the Ocean / Betty Haynes and Bob Wallace
We'll Follow the Old Man / Bob Wallace and Male Ensemble
Let Me Sing and I'm Happy (Reprise) /Susan Waverly
How Deep Is the Ocean (Reprise) / Bob Wallace and Betty Haynes
We'll Follow the Old Man (Reprise) /Bob Wallace, Phil Davis, Ralph Sheldrake and Male Ensemble
White Christmas (Reprise) /Bob Wallace and Company
I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm / Full Company
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