It’s Christmas! And what better way to celebrate it than by going to see a good old Christmas musical to bring everyone together? The West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds has brought to life Irving Berlin’s classic musical White Christmas, directed by Nikolai Foster, and I’m pleased to report that this is one show that does indeed bring people together.
White Christmas follows the story of former World War Two soldiers Bob Wallace and Phil Davis (Darren Day and Oliver Tompsett) who return from the war and embark on a bright recording career, catching the attention of the public through The Ed Sullivan Show. Amidst the glamour of showbusiness, the duo bump into two young starlet sisters, played by Holly Dale Spencer and Emma Williams respectively, and they end up going to a ski resort in Vermont in search of a truly white Christmas watching the sisters perform. However, there’s no snow to be had when they arrive at their destination, and they soon discover that the owner is the former commander of their division in the army. In a bid to honour the General (Andrew Jarvis), Wallace decides to rally up the troops and put on a big show to help ease his financial burden. However, when the resort’s receptionist Martha (Melanie La Barrie) mishears a phone call informing the recipient of Wallace’s ‘million dollar proposition’ she worries that he may not be who he claims to be, and so unravels a string of misinformation that spirals towards a warm resolution.
There’s a strong theatrical presence within the company, and they work very well as an ensemble. They recreate the hustle and bustle of war camps and busy rehearsal rooms with ease, and bring each of the musical’s scenes to life. They make many of the musical’s songs memorable and spectacular to watch, with slick choreography and direction merging together to create a delightful visual aesthetic.
This aesthetic is further aided by the simplistic set, which contains only a few important set pieces that come together to help represent the different locations of the musical. This ultimately helps you to focus on the characters and heart-warming story of the piece, and I can guarantee that this works well. A few cleverly designed set pieces that move around also create some interesting imagery on stage, which makes the production feel that bit more magical. But the most magical part of the production, however, has to be the way in which the company connects with the audience through the excellent execution of the songs. The lyrics and melodies dance amongst the audience, quite literally, and fill the Quarry Theatre with warmth and festive cheer.
White Christmas is an enjoyable, feel-good hit that’s sure to inject a bit of warmth and festivity into your holiday season. It’s engaging, well-crafted and a real Christmas gem.
White Christmas is at the West Yorkshire Playhouse until 24 January 2015. For more information and tickets, visit the West Yorkshire Playhouse website.