For some bah humbugs out there it may be a little too early to mention the C word. However, myself and the entire audience at the Palace Theatre were only too happy to watch a Christmas musical at the end of November.
Despite being based on the 1954 movie of the same name, starring the iconic Bing Crosby, the musical didn’t receive its stage debut until the year 2000. It has since gone from strength-to-strength being performed on Broadway and in the West End.
The story follows Bob (Matthew Jeans) and Phil (Dan Burton) who were both serving in the American military in 1944 and deliver a rendition of White Christmas to their fellow troops. After returning to the US, they decide to become entertainers. After setting up in New York, they decide to find a new act for their variety show, cue Betty (Jessica Daley) and Judy (Emily Langham), known collectively as the Haynes Sisters. Together they embark on a journey to Vermont to help an old friend’s hotel that is struggling to stay afloat.
While this is a nice musical and one I enjoyed, it certainly isn’t one that will set the world alight. Jeans was fantastic, a great showman with a fantastic velvety voice to back it up. His performance of ‘Blue Skies’ was sublime. The production is very dance focused and some numbers are just choreography with no singing. Having said that, there was one or two occasions were one of the dancers in the ensemble was out of time and sync with the others and it became very apparent – perhaps it was just the nerves of opening night? The tap dancing in ‘I Love a Piano’ was joyous to watch but I was a bit sceptical as to whether the ‘tap’ noise was live or recorded on a track.
Personally, I don’t think the plot of this production lends itself well to 2021. Without spoiling the story, it is an aged tale whereby a woman is swept off her feet by a man and gives up everything to be with him.
The set did everything it needed to. The scene transitions were short and snappy. Given the nature of the performance of a show within a show, it lends itself nicely to scene changes, etc. I was a bit confused with the lighting. At times it seems the lighting struggled to keep the performers on stage lit and could see the spotlight moving across the stage.
Even if you’re not dreaming of a White Christmas just yet, this is a heart-warming musical with a great score. It glistens somewhat but could be improved in some areas.
You can watch White Christmas at the Palace Theatre in Manchester until Saturday, 4th December. You can book your tickets here – https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/white-christmas/palace-theatre-manchester/calendar/2021-11-23
Reviewer: Brian Madden
Reviewed: 22nd November 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★