A little bit like the advent calender’s that popped up everywhere yesterday, the 1st of December also saw the Wolverhampton Grand theatre opening the doors to the latest seasonal classic, the musical stage version of ‘White Christmas’ . The frothy, sparking musical, based upon the classic Bing Crosby/Danny Kaye Paramount Pictures film, was staged with style and panache by the South Staffs Musical Theatre Company. It was an utterly charming, crowd pleasing piece that left the audience leaving the theatre with a warm glow truly believing Christmas had arrived.
We start in 1944, where Privates Bob Wallace and Phil Davis are entertaining the troops on Christmas Eve. Flash forward 10 years and Wallis and Davis are big television stars, planning some time in Florida over the Christmas season. But an encounter with the beautiful and talented Haynes sisters sees them traveling instead to Vermont, and ending up in a failing hotel owned by their General, Waverley. Realising that the man they admire and love has fallen on hard times, they come up with a plan to rescue the hotel, but not before all sorts of misunderstandings thwart the romantic path that Wallace and Davis and Judy and Betty Haynes are traveling on.
As Wallace and Davis, Simon McGee and Luke Renwick are great, with Wallace being slightly untight and cynical, and Davis exuding energy and exuberance. McGee and Renwick are perfect foil for each other and the partnership thrives on the stage – you truly believe they have been working together for 10 years.
Equally good are the girls. Rebecca Haydon dances a dream as Judy, and is funny and sassy too. Lexie Bennett has a stunning voice just right for the more guarded Judy, it is shown to it’s best advantage in a moody, sensual rendition of ‘Love, you didn’t do me right’, a real showstopping number that leaves you tingling.
Mentions must also be given to the fantastic Maria Shee as Martha Watson, the showbiz dame who brings to mind those fabulous ladies Eve Arden and Joan Blondell from the screwball comedies. Martha has so many of the best lines and they are delivered with aplomb by Maria. Also shining was 10 year old Abi Hathaway, who gives an assured, polished performance as Susan Waverly. Expect big things for this little girl.
For lovely Christmas tinged entertainment, White Christmas is hard to beat. You can catch it at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until Saturday 5th December. Click here for ticket information.