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White Christmas

Date

14th November 2017

Society

Centenary Theatre Company

Venue

The Brindley Theatre

Type of Production

Musical

Director

Nick Cupit

Musical Director

Michael J Scott

Choreographer

Ceris Shadwell

Report

Author: Louise Colohan

White Christmas is a musical based on the Paramount Pictures 1954 film of the same name. The book by David Ives and Paul Blake, with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. The story follows two ex-servicemen, who now find themselves to be a national hit and regulars on the Ed Sullivan Show. Bob a wary of love kind of guy and Phil a skirt chaser, who through an old army colleague end up meeting two beautiful sisters Judy and Betty, a double act. They boys end up in Vermont with the girls for the Christmas season where they are reunited with their old General, now a failing inn- keeper. In a swift decision to help the General and save his inn, they devise a plan, to put on a show.

Berlin is considered the greatest song wirter in America history, one cannot argue with this upon hearing the glorious overture for White Christmas. Michael J Scott put together a wonderful 15-piece orchestra with a beautiful tone and very good balance. Michael achieved a great sound from the cast and the quality of the harmonies were excellent.

Ceris Shadwell’s choreography was good and she really focused on the ability of each cast member. There were so many great dance moments in this production, “The Best things happen when you’re dancing”, was utterly stunning, “I love a Piano” was very original and I loved the use of the stools. A very polished performance by a hard-working cast.

Nick Cupit gave this production something fresh and real. The quality of his cast allowed the story to come through very well, possibly even better than it is written in the script. Some lovely touches added to the overall experience, the use of the candles in the opening scene gave a haunting feel to the war zone, the movement of the cast during the number “Snow” really left me feeling like I was on this train. The cast engaged completely in this production and even the smallest of roles had something special to offer to the overall effect

Joe Clark played a great role of, Bob Wallace. Great characterisation, which offered much more to the story, the realism of the character came through nicely allowing us to invest in his journey. A beautiful vocal quality enriched his performance and of course he danced very well also. He added a nice touch of sarcasm to his role which highlighted the comedy a good deal. “How deep is the ocean” was the most heart wrenching piece of acting.

Jake Hankey, played the skirt chasing Phil Davis, he gave an excellent performance, a most accomplished dancer, he excelled in his number “The Best things happen when your dancing”, showing great core strength, it was almost like sitting on the sidelines of Strictly Come Dancing, it was flawless. Jake gave us a great comedic character torn between wanting to keep his bachelor ways and wanting to be with the lovely Judy, his torment grew as the story progressed and it was nice to see the development of the role. Another great vocal performance.

Hannah Young gave a lovely performance as Betty Haynes. She had a very good vocal which really came to life in “Love, you didn’t do right by me”. Hannah worked so well with her on-stage romance, giving us lovely comedy within their scenes.

Joanne Novoa Bradley as Judy Haynes gave this character new life. A very good approach to the role, pushing the elements of comedy to the fore. Another very accomplished dancer, she was mesmerising in “Best Things happen when you’re dancing” Great vocal quality which blended extremely well in the number “Falling out of love can be fun”. A very funny and loveable interpretation.

Julia Hart gave a very seasoned performance in her role as Martha Watson. She gave us everything we wanted for this nosey character, comedy, brassiness and a beautiful vocal.

Rob Earl as General Waverly played a good role. Some great comedy came through in his scenes with Martha Watson. He brought some lovely warmth to the show.

Little Susan was played nicely Olivia Pyer. What a voice this young lady has, a strong actress, she was very much in control of her role. She was perfect.

Rhoda & Rita played by Eleanor Ross & Louisa Herridge, where a delightful duo. A very good delivery by these ladies.

All supporting roles were well cast and players acted very confidently. Each character had life and purpose which added to the overall effect of the production.

The visual aspect of this show was managed so well, every girl was turned out in the style of the period, beautiful costumes, and both Judy and Betty’s wigs were perfect.

The set was well considered and the director had added some very nice touches, the army jeep in the opening scene and the lovely fireplace offered instant warmth to the Vermont. The barn was an excellent set piece. Scenes flowed nicely with no delay in changes. Lighting was good with a few minor delays, nothing to take away from the production itself. Sound was good, with the balance between stage and pit being very satisfactory.

A wonderful evening’s entertainment which put me perfectly in the festive spirit. I thank you so much for inviting me. I look forward to my return visit in the New Year.