White Christmas

Date 6th November 2015
Society CAOS Musical Theatre Company
Venue Park View School, Chester-le-street
Type of Production Musical
Director Marjorie Bolam
Musical Director Gillian Anderson
Choreographer Lee Brannigan


Author: Michelle Coulson

Based on the film of the same title, and containing hit after hit of Irving Berlin’s music, “White Christmas” follows the story of Vaudeville double act, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, who set out to rescue their former Army commander General Waverly from bankruptcy by putting on a Broadway-style show in his barn. It is a true song and dance show and CAOS fully embraced both elements.

The auditorium had a festive feel even before the show, with snowflakes adorning the walls and the Christmas trees on the proscenium. The many different scenes meant a lot of front cloth changes, but this was well integrated into the flow of the show to avoid long waits. The orchestra was very good, and the sound balance meant they didn’t overpower the cast.

The entire company were well drilled in their many and varied dance routines; they coped very well with them and deserve a special mention for the tap numbers which they mastered particularly well. The “I Love a Piano” number led by James Forster, as Phil, and Claire Bidnell, as Judy, was particularly good.

The four leads Graeme Smith (Bob), Melanie King (Betty), James Forster (Phil) and Claire Bidnell (Judy) complemented each other very well, and all of their numbers were excellent. “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me” was delivered beautifully by Melanie and Graeme’s “Blue Skies” together with the company was superb. The contrast between the turbulent relationship of Bob and Betty and the more ready to “fall head over heels” relationship of Judy and Phil was well portrayed.

Katie Howes was excellent as the loud but caring Housekeeper Martha, her “Let Me Sing and I’m Happy” number being particularly well received, I must also mention the trio between Martha, Betty and Judy “ Falling Out of Love Can be Fun”, it was super. Bill Collins was endearing and convincing as the not-ready-to-retire General Waverly, and in the role of his granddaughter, the precocious but loveable Susan, Holly Spreadbury gave a warm and polished performance. I’m assured her counterpart, Abigail Ellis, was equally as accomplished in her performance.

All of the cameo roles were well played and gave good support to the principals, in particular Lee Brannigan (Ralph Sheldrake), Kirstie Swirles (Rita) and Joanne Whitfield (Rhoda).

Congratulations to Marjorie, Lee and Gillian for putting together a super evening’s entertainment and well done to the members receiving NODA long service awards totalling 410 years’ service to amateur theatre. What an achievement!