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White Christmas

Date

9th December 2017

Society

Spotlight Musical Theatre Group

Venue

Beccles Public Hall

Type of Production

Musical

Director

Tina Vanstone

Musical Director

Jon Gibbs and Vivien Saunders

Choreographer

Clare Osborne

Report

Author: Terry Rymer

Judging by the weather this was a well timed and appropriate show to whet the appetite pre Christmas. The opening projection scene with the entry of General Henry Waverly (John Kingston) was nicely staged, it set the scene as we are immersed in a foreign theatre of war and an intrepid group of serving men where the  General is giving a reluctant retirement speech. Capt. Bob Wallace (Tommy Mcgee), and Pte Phil Davies (Daniel Hughes) are seen entertaining the troops but he rigors of war are harsh and the vision of ‘home’ is never far from their thoughts. This trio, by immaculate coincidence, are fated to meet in civvy street where military roles are largely forgotten and even reversed. Some ten years later, Bob and Phil are now Broadway stars, even performing on the Ed Sullivan Show. They gave entertaining repartee throughout with some well delivered humour and some rather old jokes and stereotypes, joshing with each other as they taste the delights, or otherwise, of pleasures so badly missed while fighting a war! Bob is clearly out of practice while Phil attempts to show him how it is done! The target of our two would be letharios are sisters Betty and Judy Haynes (Debbie Lambert and Helen Steed), showing great style and  excellent vocals as they are wooed in somewhat different ways and taking us on a roller coaster of a ride of on/off relationships and misconstrued intentions. All of course providing the background for a plethora of some well known and some not so, of Irving Berlin musical numbers, all well sung and supplemented by a pit singing choir who also deserve a share of the vocal accolades! As a distraction we had Rita (Heidi Rix) and Rhoda (Sorrel Adams)  who enthusiastically depicted promoting Oxidant toothpaste ! Ralph Sheldrake (Joe Learner) was a frustrated booking agent and confident to Bob and Phil while the significant part of an inquisitive Hotel owner Martha Watson, come receptionist/concierge, was perhaps surprisingly played by the shows Director (Tina Vanstone), not something that I am enthusiastic about, but perhaps pragmatism forced her hand…She was totally up to the role if a trifle voice weary…but does the overall show suffer from this distraction where finer points may be less vigilantly observed ! The Ensemble are to be congratulated for their enthusiasm and tapping numbers as most of them had to learn this skill for the show…( Well done Choreographer…Quick tip…just keep smiling and we may not see the odd missed tap!). During these Company numbers we had the truly terrific interventions from the well portrayed Stage show manager Mike (Mike Catling) who exuded enthusiasm and frustration hindered or assisted by stage hand Ezekiel Foster (Lee Peck) “Yup!!”. This pair brought a much needed boost of comedy and Ezekiel even brought a round of applause for one  of his brief appearances. Also good to see young Emily Steed ‘graduating’ to the ‘adult’ company, and adding youthful exuberance as Susan Waverly the ever loyal attentive daughter to the General; she has a great future on the stage! The many musical numbers were well delivered and particularly ‘Sisters’ , ‘Snow’ with great harmonies, and the ‘big’ in Act one finale ‘Blue Skies’, then in Act 2, from the striking white suited chorus lit in radiant blue light at the Regency Club, through to the evocative ‘White Christmas’ and ‘I’ve got My Love to Keep Me Warm’. Indeed we were left with a mutual warm feeling and a happy ending to what was a very enjoyable evening’s entertainment. Keep that warmth in your hearts for your next show ‘Summer Holiday’ with yet more toe tapping numbers and fun for all…Well done!

 (See you all on January 9th ! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all…)