Wednesday 14 December 2022

Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol - Review

Queen Elizabeth Hall, London


Music and lyrics by Dolly Parton
Book and adaptation David H Bell
Directed and choreographed by Alison Pollard

Corey Wickens and Robert Bathurst

The cast in Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol are all finely voiced. The show’s sound design however doesn’t match its actors’ talents and when they sing en masse, the blurred acoustics sadly muffle most of Dolly’s lyrics. Thankfully the tale’s a classic so filling in the gaps is not too much of a challenge.

Parton’s show acknowledges the Smoky Mountains’ history of the poverty of depressed 1930s America and also captures the snowy harshness of the Appalachian winters. But Tennessee was segregated until 1954 and looking at this show and its casting, this appears to be a troubling aspect of the state’s history that the producers have conveniently overlooked.

Robert Bathurst is convincingly curmudgeonly as Ebenezer Scrooge with Sarah O’Connor putting in a sweetly sung take on Three Candles. If only the song’s lyrics were as classy as her rendition. The best song of the night that closes Act One and is later reprised to see the audience off into the night is I’m Dreaming Of A Smoky Mountain Christmas, capturing Parton’s country genius at its finest. And credit too to Andrew Hilton’s six-piece band who are on fine form throughout.

Dolly may have whimsically hitched her wagon to a classic of the Christmas canon, but this show is just a little snowbound.

Runs until 8th January 2023

Photo credit: Manuel Harlan 

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