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 The Theatreguide.London Review

White Christmas
Dominion Theatre Winter 2014-2015

Born in the US and touring Britain intermittently (mainly winters) since 2006, this stage version of the 1954 movie musical finally pauses in London for a holiday season. 

Like other film-to-stage adaptations it offers and in this case delivers the guaranteed pleasure of the familiar, an evening's entertainment that will hold few surprises, few disappointments and little to make it more memorable than the original. 

This is comfort food theatre, and there is a welcome and honourable place for it, especially at this time of year. 

The film plot was cobbled together by three credited writers to make use of Irving Berlin songs the studio owned, and the two more who wrote this version follow the original pretty closely, varying mainly to fit in a few additional songs and production numbers. 

A pair of World War II vets who have formed a song-and-dance act romance a pair of performing sisters while putting together a show and helping their old commanding officer, now a Vermont innkeeper on hard times because there's no snow (Cue the title number). 

All four of the leads are attractive and talented Tom Chambers, late of Top Hat, former boy soprano Aled Jones, Louise Bowden and Rachel Stanley. 

Chambers and Bowden get a lovely Fred-and-Ginger dance to 'The Best Things Happen When You're Dancing' and later lead the chorus in some really exciting tap dancing to 'I Love A Piano'. 

Jones noticeably leaves the stage whenever any serious dancing begins, but he gets to croon 'Blue Skies', 'Count Your Blessings' and 'How Deep Is The Ocean' (the last two with Stanley) in a warm baritone. 

Actually, the show is better than it really had to be. Morgan Young's recreation of Walter Bobbie's original direction never patronises or short-changes the audience, Randy Skinner's choreography is brilliant by any standard, sets and costumes deliver all the eye-delight you could wish, and the performers don't stint on energy and personality. 

The plot and what pass for comic sequences carried over from the film are a wisecracking inn manager and a depressingly precocious little girl are essentially harmless, and Wendi Peters as the manager gets a couple of brassy numbers meant to stop the show, which they almost do. 

But the show lies in the songs, the personable performers, the colourful costumes, the welcome rarity of a stage full of people dancing, and the safe predictability of it all (No points for guessing what happens to the Vermont weather right on cue as they all go into the title song). 

If the family have all seen Lion King and Charlie, and if  Billy Elliot and Wicked are a bit too hard-edged for them, White Christmas is an excellent once-a-year-theatre choice.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review - White Christmas - Dominion Theatre 2014  

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