With the festive season literally just around the corner, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas The Musical feels like the perfect way to get us all in the mood for candy canes and mistletoe. The Curve Leicester production, which ran last year comes to the London’s Dominion Theatre under the direction of Nikolai Foster.
Based on the 1954 movie, the musical follows a similar plot and with the same musical numbers. Soldiers, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis who regularly entertain their fellow troops, hit the big time on Broadway. After an appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, they make the acquaintance of Betty and Judy Haynes, and Phil tricks Bob into taking the train to Vermont with the sisters instead of to their next gig in Miami.
In Vermont the sisters have been booked to appear at The Columbia Inn, which Bob and Phil discover belongs to their former General. Despite the best efforts of concierge, Martha Watson, the Inn is in trouble, so Phil and Bob plan to stage their next Broadway revue right there in the barn and invite all their army buddies along too.
Of course, there’s romance, misunderstandings and an adorable granddaughter, plus Irving Berlin’s fabulous score all thrown in to the mix, making White Christmas The Musical a heart-meltingly delightful night out. It is a musical of the 1950’s era, so ticks along at that sedate pace only to be picked up by plenty of big song and dance numbers, including a spectacular tap routine at the top of act two.
Stephen Mear’s new choreography positively fizzles with delight, it’s snappy and daring, but retains the quintessential feel of the era. David Ives and Paul Blake’s book gets the occasional modern update, but on the whole, it too remains firmly in the past, and while the values don’t necessarily reflect today’s society, they do epitomise the post war period.
Danny Mac and Dan Burton confidently lead the cast as Bob and Phil, there’s a great chemistry between the pair, and you can feel the bond of the two soldiers who have gone on to make a success of their lives, but still hold dear their army background. That same chemistry can be found between Clare Halse and Danielle Hope as the Haynes sisters, while Brenda Edwards wows the audience with powerfully striking vocals.
White Christmas The Musical is about as cosy and comforting as you get, by the time you get to the final number (the famous title song) it’s like being wrapped in a warm blanket on Christmas eve, you can’t quite smell chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but you’ll perhaps feel that all your Christmas’s have come at once as you are swept up in the magic of a bygone era. White Christmas The Musical is a dazzling festive gift to the West End.