White Christmas – Review
White Christmas | Dominion Theatre | Review
If you are doubting that you can really get into a festive mood in November, let me assure you that you can at the sumptuous production of White Christmas recently opened at The Dominion Theatre in London.
The Dominion, one of London’s largest theatres, was given a multi-million pound makeover 5 years ago, and looks spectacular, it is lavishly decorated with elegant Christmas decorations, the bar sells delicious (albeit pricey) mulled wine and on the gala night we were serenaded by The Spinettes, a trio of harmonious singers (akin to the Andrews Sisters) singing upbeat and popular Christmas Songs to get us truly into the Christmas spirit.
Before the days of digital TV, the 1954 film White Christmas was as much of a Christmas staple as turkey and mistletoe. It is the story of two ex-GIs Bob and Phil helping their retired General save his failing hotel in Vermont by staging a Broadway show in his barn. They then secretly invite all the soldiers that served under the General to the hotel to celebrate Christmas Eve with him. Of course, a little romance is on the cards too as Bob and Phil fall for sisters Betty and Judy Haynes.
The film translates to the stage very well and White Christmas is a delicious winter warmer, it looks and sounds delightful. For a show being staged for less than two months, there was no skimping on production values. Set designer Michael Taylor uses every inch of the Dominion’s vast stage to create barns, hotels, theatres and nightclubs and Diego Pitarch’s snazzy colourful costumes recreate the 50s so perfectly that you wish fashion was that elegant today.
Danny Mac and Dan Burton play Bob Wallis and Phil Davis, the roles originated in the film by Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, they have good chemistry and a whole heap of talent, if I had one criticism, it is that they look fairly similar from the back of the auditorium which was confusing in the early scenes. The Haynes sisters are played by Danielle Hope who adds a sparkle of elegance and Clare Hulse whose infectious smile and nifty dance moves are a joy to watch.
Michael Brandon (yes, yes, of Dempsey and Makepiece fame) brings dignified respectability in the non-singing/dancing role of General Waverly, but it is the amazing powerhouse Brenda Edwards who steals every scene she is in with her humour and fabulous singing voice in the role of Martha, the hotel’s concierge who will do anything to protect her boss.
However, overall, the beauty of the show comes from the music. White Christmas is filled chocablock with timeless classics all written by song master Irving Berlin. Thankfully they have replaced certain incongruous songs from the film to more popular and relevant Berlin hits. The ensemble numbers give choreographer Stephen Mear a chance to hone his craft to produce some sparkling dance routines and the beautiful ballads ‘Count your blessings’ and the iconic title song bring a tear to your eye.
Christmas has arrived in Tottenham Court Road. White Christmas may be old fashioned schmaltzy and twee, but it is full of heart and brings a smile to your face no matter how unprepared you are for the big day.
“White Christmas” is showing at the Dominion Theatre, London until January 4th 2020.