Sunday 16 December 2018

White Christmas

Curve, Leicester

14th December, 2018


Happy Holiday!

Following on from last year’s suitably festive offering, Scrooge: the Musical, with White Christmas Curve have yet again produced a classy production filled with yuletide magic and enough fluffy escapism to warm hearts on these cold winter nights. Showstopping routines and the rich classics of Irving Berlin, performed by a pitch-perfect cast, ensure Nikolai Foster’s production is a treat for the eyes and ears.

As with many ‘Golden Age’ musicals, David Ives and Paul Blake’s book (based on the 1954 film) is pretty inconsequential. Essentially a juke-box musical, White Christmas loosely weaves a tale of screwball romance and tenuous threat amid the festive cheer that pales in comparison to Berlin’s toe-tapping numbers. In a plot reminiscent of Gershwin vehicle, Crazy For You, ex-servicemen turned big-shot variety entertainers, Bob and Phil, determine to organise a Christmas Broadway revue to drive business and save the failing small-town inn of their old army General. Very few complications arise and we’re left in no doubt that our team of intrepid stageys will save the day; the General’s business will boom and the unseasonal heatwave in Vermont will pass and, yes, the lovers will experience that ‘white Christmas’ they’ve been longing for. Ives and Blake don’t hold back on the sentiment.

But if there’s one time of year you can get away with overdosing on sugar and corny cracker jokes, it’s Christmas. Foster has assembled a crowd-pleasing cast of triple-threats that embody Berlin’s ethos of cosy crooning, mellifluous melodies, and lyrics that are by turns impish and heart melting. Dan Burton is perfectly cast as charming ladies’ man, Phil, demonstrating the cheeky likeability that wowed audiences in The Pajama Game and Gypsy. His chemistry with Monique Young is a joy, their duets, ‘The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing’ and ‘I Love A Piano’, are pure Broadway bliss. Meanwhile, Danny Mac and Emma Williams excel as the reluctant but kind Bob and waspish ingénue Betty, sharing dreamy ballads, most enchanting of which is the yearning counterpoint of ‘Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me/How Deep Is The Ocean’.

Once again, Curve has pulled out all the stops with Michael Taylor’s expansive set, Diego Pitarch’s lustrous costumes and Stephen Mear’s outstanding choreography. Combined, the stage is ablaze with theatrical spectacle that dazzles and shines as bright at the baubles in the magnificently Christmassy finale. Tap dancing chorus lines, 1950’s glamour and the enduring appeal of The Great White Way make for a slice of idealistic Americana that proves to be just the tonic to the troubling realities of the world right now. By the final curtain, only the most miserly of Scrooges could fail to be heartened by the magical snowfall of White Christmas.

White Christmas plays at Curve until 13th January, 2019.

The Cast of White Christmas. Photography by Catherine Ashmore.

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