|Date||9th November 2018|
|Society||Maghull Musical Theatre Company|
|Venue||Little Theatre Southport|
|Type of Production||Musical|
|Musical Director||Adam Dutch|
Author: Patricia Connor
White Christmas” is a heart warming, feel good musical first performed for the public in the year 2000, it is based on the 1954 film with the same name, which is arguably one of the best Christmas movies of all time , staring Bing Crosby, Danny Kay, Rosemary Clooney and Vera -Ellen. The story is taken from a book by David Ives and Paul Blake and has music and lyrics by the composer Irving Berlin.
The musical begins during World War Two where we find soldiers Captain Bob Wallace and Private Phil Davis entertaining the troops during the Christmas period in 1944. On leaving the army they work as a song and dance act, and ten years later they are a successful popular duo called Wallace and Davis guest staring on the Ed Sullivan Show. While looking for new acts they see a talented sister duo Betty and Judy Haynes, and from the start Phil is attracted to Judy, but Bob is more reticent about his feelings for Betty. Bob and Phil ask the sisters to join their new show but unfortunately they already have a commitment for the Christmas season. So the two men follow the girls to an Inn in Vermont which just happens to be owned by their old commanding officer, General Henry Waverley. The inn is struggling to survive. So they decided to put on a show to help raise the money to pay the bills and plan to bring the General’s former troops to Vermont as the audience as a surprise for the General. The score features well known standards including “Blue Skies”, “Sisters”, “I Love A Piano”, “How Deep Is the Ocean” as well as the perennial favourite, which is said to be the number one Christmas song of all time namely “White Christmas”.
The experienced production team of Ian Culshaw, Musical Director Adam Dutch and Choreographer Sarah Fletcher had at their disposal a cast of fine actors, great singers and talented dancers who all performed outstandingly. They included a superb performance from Lee Ashall in the Bing Crosby role of Bob, who was complemented brilliantly by Alex McKillop as his more outgoing partner Phil, they both understood their roles well resulting intwo very likeable characters. Alexandra Ashall produced a lovely characterisation and a excellent performance as Betty while a very talented Sophie Grant completed the quartet as Judy and I have to say that Alexandra and Sophie were very believable as sisters. Also well done to Sophie and Alex for their entertaining performance together in the lengthy very well choreographed night club dance routine . Jan Monkley was very entertaining as Martha Watson the no nonsense hotel receptionist and ex broadway performer, who also had a heart of gold and Bob Cleverly had a military bearing as General Henry Waverly who was also a loving grandfather to Susan, played very nicely in this performance by Kathryn Dilworth and in other performances by Olivia Galley.Other very entertaining roles were played by Liam Rabette as Ralph Sheldrake an old army friend, with Aidan Maj as Mike the hysterical and very comedic stage manager and Matt Christiansen was Ezekiel Foster a comedic handymanwho was supposed to be helping as a stage hand and doing odd jobs around the barn theatre.The enthusiastic ensemble performed with lots of energy and looked as if they were really enjoying themselves, while supporting the principle cast really well, producing good singing, and performing the very good choreography by Sarah Fletcher expertly which was in keeping for the era of the show. Generally American accents, diction and projection were good and the story could be followed. The Orchestra led by Musical Director Adam Dutch expertly played the big band type iconic music excellently, which seamed to be really enjoyed by theaudience, they also supported all the cast on stage very well.
There were smooth quick changes between scenes by the stage crew with good technical input which kept the pace of the show just right, although it was difficult to see the lovely snow scene through the barn door at the back of the stage towards the end of the show as the cast obscured the view and maybe some more falling snow would have been nice, but that is just a personal observation.Costumes, hair and makeup were mostly right for the era and costumes were very colourful adding to the authenticity and the feel of the show.
This was a very entertaining sentimental heartwarming show, just right for this time of year which was really enjoyed by the appreciative audience. Congratulations to everyone involved in bringing this show to the stage, thank you very much for a lovely entertaining evening, I was ready for my cocoa when I got home which seamed to be appropriate for the evening.