If you have ever dreamed of being transported to a time and place where the women were glamorous, the men were slick, the dialogue came thick, fast and peppered with corny jokes, and absolutely everyone could sing and dance, then White Christmas is the show for you.
Even if this production wasn’t based on a popular film, the plot would still not win any prizes for originality: two WWII veterans (Coronation Street‘s Steven Houghton and Paul Robinson) who’ve gone on to become famous performers, stage a Christmas show to save their former general’s (The Bill‘s Graham Cole) failing business, meeting the women of their dreams (Rachel Stanley and Jayde Westaby) in the process. But musicals have never been about plausibility or innovation, and within the context of the genre, these cliches are entirely forgivable. The rather indulgent inclusion of an adorably precocious child may, however, prove a sugar-coated step too far for modern audiences.
There are many things to love about this production. The costumes and set are rich in period detail, the Irving Berlin score is full of sing-a-long classics and there are some excellent performances (Wendi Peters joyfully channels Ethel Merman in her supporting role as a reluctantly retired star). But where White Christmas really shines is in the elaborate, exuberant dance sequences. The sight of the 30+ members of the ensemble cast whirling around the stage or forming a tap-dancing chorus line is a lavish treat that feels straight out of Hollywood’s golden era and will warm the cockles of the coldest heart.
This month, Edinburgh’s theatres will be dominated by traditional and not-so-traditional pantomimes and children’s shows. With its winning mix of nostalgia, classic tunes, big budget production values and a healthy dash of holiday magic, White Christmas offers the perfect alternative to the usual festive theatrical offerings.