Theatre Review: White Christmas, The Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

I’m one of those people that detests hearing Christmas music in the shops so early in the year, but such is my (not so) secret love of the movie White Christmas, that I was more than happy to spend a cheerful November evening in snowy Pine Tree, Vermont. Well, Southampton.

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is a sumptuous movie with wonderful songs, large-scale production numbers and a cast including Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney and while some stage shows pale in comparison to their big-screen counterparts, this production of White Christmas is really second-to-none.

White Christmas begins at the tail-end of WW2, as the US Army’s 151st Battalion enjoy their Christmas Revue, the last with their much-loved General Waverly. Fast forward ten years and the stars of that Revue, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis are big stars, heading off to Miami for a well-earned Christmas break. After taking in the Haynes Sisters cabaret act as a favour for an old Army buddy, the two inexplicably find themselves on a train to Vermont with the Haynes Sisters instead. Although Bob is not at all happy with this arrangement the group convinces him that Vermont will be great with ‘all that snow’ – the only problem? Vermont is having a heatwave!

Phil and Bob then discover that General Waverly owns the Columbia Inn, where the Haynes Sisters are booked to perform but no snow=no guests and lots of unpaid bills, so they decide to help the General out and move their new show to Vermont, while planning a secret reunion of the 151st Batallion.

Although Aled Jones is currently starring in this production he was, sadly, ill on the night I went but Mark Dickinson was really wonderful as Bob Wallace and his chemistry with Amy Ellen Richardson as Betty Haynes was lovely to watch. Adam Cooper played Phil Davis and, although he may be principally known as a dancer, he sang and acted well. Louise Bowden’s peppy Judy Haynes was a real tribute to Vera Ellen and I really enjoyed watching her dance.

One of my favourite characters in the movie is Martha, the busybody housekeeper and Louise Plowright played her to perfection while Ken Farrington and Alex Harrison were so cute together as Grandpa and Granddaughter.

The production values of this show were unbelievably high – the sets were amazingly detailed and various, while each of the big dance numbers was so well choreographed and performed. There was also a special treat at the end of the show for those who might not have been quite into the Christmas spirit, but I won’t reveal it and spoil it! Suffice to say that if you’re not ready for Christmas after seeing this brilliant show then you never will be!

White Christmas continues at The Mayflower, Southampton until 26th November and I would highly recommend you flex your Christmas muscles and go along!

Please note: The Mayflower Theatre kindly provided two tickets to White Christmas for the purposes of this review. The opinions expressed, are entirely my own.

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