22nd October 2015
Type of Production
Author: Terry Harrison
The prospect of seeing this show whilst still in the last few days of British Summer Time was a little surprising but I know that Harrogate Theatre’s arrangements with its amateur companies are best described as somewhat inflexible. If, therefore, you want to do the show and your slot’s in October, you haven’t much choice.
As if to set the scene, the town’s biggest department store had already decked its halls to resemble Christmas Eve in a difficult trading year, the town’s street decorations, whilst not yet lit, were being put in place and there was a bit of a chill in the air. When we were asked to join in singing the show’s title song within a few minutes of its opening, we were, therefore, already beginning to feel a bit Christmassy.
This Society has a history of excellent productions under their experienced team and this was certainly no exception. In recent years they have chosen more modern shows and although this one is comparatively new to the stage, its story and Irving Berlin songs go back much further but are always worth hearing. All the principals gave excellent performances but I particularly enjoyed Susan Wilcock and Jennifer Hirst, both newcomers to the Society, as the “sisters” described in the song. Chris Knight and Richard Upton tackled the parts of the song and dance men with ease and 11-year old Tilly Ducker brought her already considerable stage experience to the part of the precocious Susan.
With this Director/Choreographer we can always expect some sparkling dance routines and we were not disappointed. The opening of Act 2 (“I love a piano”) is one of the highlights of this show and the glitter of the costumes, coupled with some lovely projected images made this a memorable experience. The many scene changes were handled with the minimum of fuss so that the whole performance flowed smoothly and some excellent lighting added to the enjoyment of a splendid evening with a talented company.
Whilst I shall not necessarily be making an early start to the festive season, the overall experience of this production will no doubt prove a great help in facing the dark nights ahead.