Monday, 24 November 2014

Theatre review: Irving Berlin's White Christmas



The treetops glisten and the children listen to hear sleigh bells in the West End after the glittering opening of Irving Berlin's White Christmas.

Admittedly, when I first arrived at the Dominion Theatre I was missing the eye-catching Freddie Mercury statue which had been guiding tourists and theatregoers to We Will Rock You for over a decade, but the almost life-like snow that fluttered down onto the red carpet and the gorgeous seasonal decorations inside of the theatre, not to mention the fresh-looking recently refurbished interior, made me feel very festive and forget all about Freddie.


The stage show is based on the 1950s film starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as two ex-army men who become successful entertainers after the Second World War and audition a sister pair to become part of their act. Romance, of course, ensues. The version I saw follows a similar storyline but with a welcome increase in song and dance numbers. The additional score fits seamlessly with the originals from the big screen, creating a highly hummable soundtrack. And it is accompanied by some truly impressive choreography, which brings back a splash of the tap-dancing glory that had been missing in theatreland since the closure of Singin' in the Rain.

This particular production has been touring the UK for some years now and the West End cast is led by seasoned White Christmas actor Aled Jones (Bob Wallace) and Strictly Come Dancing winner Tom Chambers (Phil Davis). The duo are a good match, showing excellent chemistry and complimenting each other well on the theatrical disciplines; Jones brings the Bing Crosby-esque rich, velvety tones to sentimental numbers such as 'Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep' and 'Blue Skies', and Tom Chambers shows off the outstanding moves which gained him a well-deserved Olivier award nomination for his starring role in Top Hat the musical.


For a seasoned musical theatregoer such as myself, the show does feel somewhat unimaginable, particularly in the second act as it follows an age-old entertaining formula right down to the fake snow adding a touch of winter magic to the auditorium, followed by a toe-tapping grand finale. But while it may have been done many times before, not always to the degree of excellence the White Christmas cast brings to the Dominion stage and for that reason alone I'd happily return in a few weeks time for another Yuletide fix.

A touch sentimental and predictable the show may be, filled with feel-good festive songs, showstopping tap-dance numbers and a twinkle of snowflakes, Irving Berlin's White Christmas hits the seasonal spot just right. Happy holidays indeed.





Irving Berlin's White Christmas is playing at the Dominion Theatre in London's West End until 3 January 2015, you can buy tickets here.

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