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 The Theatreguide.London Review

White Christmas
Dominion Theatre   Winter 2019-2020

This stage version of a 1954 movie has a dream score and a handful of delightful moments. But too much of it, from design to choreography to performances, seems to have settled for 'good enough.' And that's not good enough.

The film was Hollywood's version of a jukebox musical. The studio had the rights to some Irving Berlin songs and had some performers under contract, so a story was written to put the pieces together.

A pair of song-and-dance men meet a pair of song-and-dance women. Meanwhile the guys, former army buddies, learn that their beloved general owns a failing Vermont hotel.

They arrange for a veterans' reunion at the hotel, with them and the girls as entertainment. One weekend's bookings magically save the hotel from bankruptcy, the boys and girls pair off, and it snows just in time for Christmas.

It certainly helps that the songbook the film- and musical-makers had to choose from was one of the greatest in the American repertoire, featuring not just the best Christmas song ever, but such classics as Let Yourself Go, Count Your Blessings, Let Me Sing And I'm Happy, How Deep Is The Ocean and I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm.

But as I said, too much of this gold is just walked through, as if to give the Big Night Out theatre audience the very least they could be offered without insulting them.

The dancing half of each team, Dan Burton and Clare Halse, do have two first-rate numbers, a Fred-and-Ginger-style waltz and a fill-the-stage-with-tap-dancers extravaganza.

Brenda Edwards shakes the rafters with a belting Let Me Sing And I'm Happy, and Halse, Edwards and Danielle Hope inject some retro-lovely Andrews Sisters harmonies into the witty Falling Out Of Love Can Be Fun.

But the singing lead, Danny Mac, can inject no personality into his character or life into his songs, and the attempts at comedy all fail. Most of the songs, including some of those I listed earlier, go by barely registering with you, as is true of most of the second-level performers.

White Christmas should be a guaranteed holiday season delight. But, unlike the production that played this same theatre five winters ago, this one settles for and delivers too little.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review of  White Christmas - Dominion Theatre 2019