music and lyrics by Irving Berlin book by David Ives and Paul Blake.
Dominion Theatre 268-269 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 7AQ To 3 January 2015.
Tue–Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 40min One interval.
TICKETS: 0845 200 7982.
Review: William Russell 12 November.
Berlin deserves better.
Based on the 1952 film starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye White Christmas has been around and about at the appropriate time of year in Britain since 2006. I saw it last year in Edinburgh when it seemed acceptable enough entertainment, well danced by a smartly dressed cast, even if the plot, no great shakes in 1952, is thin to the point of being anorexic in spite of whatever Messrs Ives and Blake have done.
But in the cavernous spaces of the Dominion, where it has surfaced as seasonal entertainment with Aled Jones and Tom Chambers as the song and dance act played by Crosby and Kaye, it simply will not do. What looked acceptable in the Festival Theatre is not what passes muster in the West End, especially at the prices they are charging.
The plot concerns the pair putting on a show for a down-on-his-luck general under whom they had served, now turned hotel keeper in Vermont where the snow is refusing to fall. Berlin’s songs from the film with a few from other shows keep the evening going and Aled Jones sings pleasantly enough in the Crosby role, but when forced to dance turns out to be a man uncomfortably aware of possessing two left feet.
As the hoofer of the duo Tom Chambers in the Kaye role dances with enthusiasm, but sadly pretty well every man in the ensemble dances just as well, if not better. The sister act in their lives are played by Rachel Stanley and Louise Bowden ,who do sparkle stylishly, but the star turn is delivered by Wendi Peters as the hotel receptionist.
Made up to look like Ethel Merman, she bellows her numbers with great aplomb and would have stopped the show except that nobody wanted that to happen. The choreography is clichéd, the sets, designed for whatever theatre the show is in, rattle around, and look awful, while the sound designer has overegged the decibels in a bid to fill the auditorium. Real snow falls on the audience at the end but it is too late to save the day.
RalphSheldrake: Jonathan Halliwell.
Bob Wallace: Aled Jones.
Phil Davis: Tom Chambers.
General Henry Waverly: Graham Cole.
Ed Sullivan Announcer: Brendan Cull.
Rita: Vikki-Marie Ryan.
Tessie: Michelle Bishop.
Betty Haynes: Rachel Stanley.
Judy Haynes: Louise Bowden.
Cigarette Girl: Vicki Davids.
Jimmy: Ross McLaren.
Quintet: Michelle Bishop, Matthew Cheney, Brendan Cull, Lori
Haley Fox, Jonathan Halliwell.
Mr Snoring Man: Phil Cole.
Mrs Snoring Man: Lori Haley Fox.
Train Conductor: Stuart Winter.
Martha Watson: Wendi Peters.
Susan Waverly: Tatum Confrey/Sophia Pettit/Emily Robins/Amy Snudden.
Ezekiel: Phil Cole.
Mike: Brendan Cull.
Ensemble: Karen Aspinall, Emma Caffrey, Matthew Cheney, Vicki Davids, Jennifer Davison, Grace Holdstock, Jonny Labey, Lucinda Lawrence, Joshua Lay, Ross McLaren, Gary Murphy, Eddie Myles, Helen Patching, Hayley Reed, Vikki-Marie Ryan, Matthew Whennell-Clark, Anthony Whiteman, Stuart Winter
Dance Captains/ Swings: Grace Holdstock, Gary Murphy.
Director (UK): Morgan Young.
Designer: Anna Louizos.
Lighting: Ken Billington.
Sound: Clement Rawling.
Orchestrator: Larry Blank.
Musical Director: Andrew Corcoran.
Costume: Carrie Robbins.
Associate choreographer(UK): Helen Rymer.