The Theatreguide.London Review
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
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
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.
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