Thursday, 13 November 2014

White Christmas The Musical Review

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas The Musical
Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin
Book by David Ives and Paul Blake

  *˛°.˛*.˛°˛.˛★˛˚˛*˛°.˛*.˛°˛.*★* Merry (Better Early *★* 。*˛.
˛°_██_*.。*. / ♥ \ .˛* .˛。.˛.*.★* Than Never) Christmas *★ 。*
˛. (´• ̮•)*.。*/♫.♫\*˛.* ˛_Π_____.♥ ♥ ˛* ˛* ★ 。*  *˛°.˛*.˛°˛.˛
.°( . • . ) ˛°./• '♫ ' •\.˛*./______/~\*. ˛*.。˛* ˛. * ˛°˛.*★*
*(...'•'.. ) *˛╬╬╬╬╬˛°.|田田 |門|╬╬╬╬╬*˚ .˛ *.

The Sound of Berlin

It was three quarters of the way through the perfectly enjoyable, toe-tapping “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas the Musical” (based on the 1954 movie) when your blog mine host found herself wracking her brains for the other story which ended up in an inn in Vermont. Suddenly it came to her –  the Von Trapp family of the later musical The Sound of Music (1959)  walked over the Alps – but after the credits rolled set up a successful family music franchise - in an inn in Vermont ! Was this in the mind of movie makers when they changed  location from Connecticut in Holiday Inn (1942) to Vermont twelve years later in the White Christmas movie directed by Hungarian-born Michael Curtiz? Here of course nearly all similarities between White Christmas and the Sound of Music – almost – end. In both there are strict military types who eventually melt into good guys with their hearts in the right place.  But all this is by-the-bye – how does the current musical extravaganza  – a US 2004 creation with several Irving Berlin songs not in the movie – shape up? It’s no masterpiece (and there were a few initial microphone sound issues, although this improved as the performance progressed), but it’s a great seasonal show directed in this West End première by Morgan Young, pressing all the right buttons without feeling too contrived. Classic songs from the Berlin catalogue. Infectious platoons of tap dancing chorus boys and girls. Two couples whose affairs are bolstered by beautiful melodies and smooth dance routines. Three roles for veterans including a comically monosyllabic Phil Cole as handyman Ezekiel and a suitably gruff Graham Cole (are they related?!) as retired General Waverly, and a pigtailed granddaughterly swot of a little lass who by the the show's end holds her musical theatre own with the best of them (not sure which of four Susie Waverlys we saw, but taking turns are Tatum Confrey, Sophia Pettit, Emily Robins and Amy Snudden). No cute dog, but you can’t have everything ;). A few design choices meant some scenery seemed dwarfed by the large stage near the beginning but even a couple of mentions of larceny can’t dim the bright later design, inventive costumes, lighting and happy ending story. Aled Jones as Bob Wallace and Tom Chambers as Phil Davis respectively take on the Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye roles, ex-army pals and celebrity song-and-dance men working to save a mountain inn, the investment into which their beloved former commanding officer has (inexplicably!) poured his savings and pension. Aled Jones has a truly excellent clear melodious voice while Tom Chambers dances, sings and cracks gags with an impish Jack Lemmon-like glee, although their parody “Sisters” number is perhaps not as sharp and hilarious as it could be. Wendi Peters leaves Coronation Street's Cilla Battersby-Brown far behind as entirely believable American Martha Watson - busybody switchboard operator, receptionist and closet-Ethel-Merman in an engrossingly spot-on performance, using her powerful showstopping voice with Broadway ease. Meanwhile blonde Judy (Louise Bowden) and redhead Betty (Rachel Stanley) warble and tap-dance pleasingly and more-than-proficiently through some terrific numbers as the love interests. And who can resist a stand-out song and dance routine on the pleasures of the piano accompanied by lyrics such as "I know a fine way to treat a Steinway"?! ;) With lush sounding orchestra, glorious choreography and costumes, it’s really a show that can’t fail to be a crowd pleaser for those who like their musicals bold, brassy and predictable, so, despite some flaws, a shimmering green light from this happy punter and her jalopy, now garaged, but with an engine still humming those irrepressible songs from the Irving Berlin stable :).

_██_*.。*. / ♥ \ .˛* .˛。.˛.*.★*
˛*.。. (´• ̮•)*.。*/♫.♫\*˛.* ˛_Π_____.♥ ♥
★*.( . • . ) ˛°./• '♫ ' •\.˛*./______/~\
* 。* (...'•'.. ) *˛╬╬╬╬╬˛°.|田田 |門|

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