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Taking a trip to London this winter and trying to decide on the best West End show to give you that festive feeling? Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: The Musical opens at The Dominion Theatre to warm up the West End this winter – but will you be left dreaming of a white Christmas, or falling out of love with musical theatre?
With a performer such as Aled Jones taking the lead role of Bob Wallace, you could be forgiven for initially thinking this a stunt to pull in the fans of Daybreak. However, what you may not know is Aled Jones is in fact an accomplished musical theatre actor. Being a seasoned member of any cast of White Christmas, Jones brings a delightfully warm and comic portrayal of Bob Wallace to the stage and some brilliant vocal performances. A particular favourite has to be the closing number of act one, Blue Skies, which was a magnificent spectacle on all fronts.
Pre-emptive of seeing the show, I believed White Christmas to be a cheesey and festive production that would rest of the benefit of the doubt – ‘We can forgive that, it’s a christmas musical!’ On the contrary, White Christmas is a West End classic, displaying how everything in musical theatre should be done.
As I said, the production is a spectacle throughout. However one massive contributing factor to this has to be the choreography. Having recently seen The Scottsboro Boys, my appreciation for choreography had been ignited more than any time before, but this was taken to a new level with White Christmas. Featuring choreography by Randy Skinner and UK associate choreographer Helen Rymer, White Christmas is fast-paced, highly technical, and (even more impressive) flawless. The cast has certainly been put through its paces in this production.
The whole ensemble in White Christmas is fantastic – handling the intense choreography whilst giving faultless vocal renditions of Irving’s score and lyrics. The lead characters are played brilliantly by all. There are a few cast members that must be highlighted, however. Wendy Peters as Martha Watson brings comic genius to the role, and yet again with a delightfully surprising belter of a voice. Her song ‘Let Me Sing and I’m Happy’ was met with rapturous applause and certainly left the audience happy.
When it came to the choreography, I have to give praise to Tom Chambers and Louise Bowden, who feature numerous times in the production as a dancing duo. ‘I Love a Piano’, although not a show favourite for myself, featured incredibe tap dancing and performance. This was a point in the show where everyone who is a musical theatre fan looked on in awe.
I previously mentioned my adoration for the number ‘Blue Skies’, which was a treat visually – with credit to Aled Jones for a smooth and capturing vocal and the ensemble for a stunning choreographic display.
One final mention for the character of Betty Haynes, played perfectly by Rachel Stanley. Her performance was a beautiful balance of the portrayal of a strong woman, whilst still allowing for a softer side and even the odd comic treat throughout. Her vocals were effortless and seemed to get bigger throughout the production.
This show is like an advent calendar with a musical theatre delight as every scene change unveils the next scene or musical number. Who knows what will be behind the final door when this production closes at the end of its limited run, but what I do know is you should catch this festive marvel before it closes in January – that’s certainly one way to guarantee yourself a white Christmas.