Sunday, 16 December 2018

White Christmas

Curve Theatre, Leicester



****


Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin
Book by David Ives and Paul Blake
Directed by Nikolai Foster



Emma Williams, Danny Mac, Dan Burton and Monique Young
There are few shows as comforting and traditional at this time of year as Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. It’s a corny old yarn for sure that sees Dan Burton and Danny Mac playing Phil Davis and Bob Wallace and two ex-trouper/troopers who team up with the Haynes Sisters (Emma Williams and Monique Young) to put on  a show in Vermont, and rescue the business of their former and much loved commanding officer General Waverly who since the end of World War 2, has been running an upstate Inn and making horrendous losses.

Strip away the seasonal feel, and the story crumbles under close scrutiny. But with Berlin’s classic numbers and in the gifted creative hands of director Foster and his choreographer Stephen Mear, the evening becomes a fabulous feel-good delight.

Foster has established form in coaxing excellence from Mac and Williams, but it is Mear who offers the lucky citizens of Leicester their biggest Xmas treat by taking Burton and Young away from his usual seasonal offering at Paris’ Theatre du Ch√Ętelet, to their native side of the English Channel and pairing them at the Curve. These two actors have seen recent years allow them to develop an intuitive connection in their dancework – they surely have to be the finest movers in the nation’s musical theatre corps, proving this again with their  phenomenal footwork in the show’s second half opener I Love A Piano.

Mear of course delivers excellence from across his ensemble, with strong performances from Garry Robson as Waverly and from Wendy Mae Brown as Martha Watson, the General’s much put upon, (but ultimate) sweetheart and, on press night, the cutest turn from Georgia Stewart as his young granddaughter Susan.

A seasonally busy Jason Carr has done beautiful work arranging the Songbook classics, while the seven piece band, under Neil Macdonald’s direction, take the packed Curve houses all the way back to the 1950s – heck, the snowblowers even deliver a venue-filling blizzard as the audience delight in a singalong of the title number.

White Christmas maybe as cheesy as a fine old stilton, but it’s still first-class festive fayre!


Runs until 13th January 2019
Photo credit: Catherine Ashmore

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