Nikolai Foster’s elegant production is a wonderful early Christmas present in the West End.
Last seen on stage at the Leicester Curve Theatre last year, Nikolai Foster’s warmhearted and brilliantly staged production of White Christmas has made its way to the West End and what a Christmas treat it is.
Based on the 1954 film that starred Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen, White Christmas follows the story of two former World War American soldiers turned performers who team up with a pair of siblings, Betty and Judy to help save a holiday inn in Vermont from financial ruin.
Elegant, charming and warm from start to finish, Nikolai Foster’s production is so absorbing that there are plenty of moments that it is possible to forget that you are watching a show. In particular, during the scene in which Bob (Danny Mac) sings Susan to sleep with ‘Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep’ it fees as though he is singing it to the audience as well.
But it is also the way in which Foster’s production highlights Bob’s struggle to readjust to civilian life and trying to move forward, helped by Danny Mac’s spot on performance that captures the way in which the character feels distant from everyone else – brusque but vulnerable. This is like the way in which the sequence to ‘Falling Out of Love Can Be Fun’ also highlights the way Judy, Martha and Betty attempt to not place too much of their happiness on the men in their lives. It’s the way in which moments such as these are staged that add a contemporary feel to this classic musical and make it feel relevant to today.
The whole production is exquisite to look at as well. Stephen Mear’s gorgeous choreography is suitably stylish, capturing the spirit and era of the show beautifully – particularly the sequence for ‘Blue Skies’ and the dazzling tap routine for ‘I Love a Piano’ (stunningly performed by Clare Halse, Dan Burton and the ensemble) are two real highlight moments of the show. Meanwhile, Diego Pitarch’s glamorous costume designs work well with the choreography and Tom Marhall’s sound design makes Irving Berlin’s score ring out with joy. Everything is lavishly designed.
There has been plenty of attention to detail visually -not least as the opening sequence set during the war proves cleverly, but also in terms of the performances from the cast. Dan Burton as Phil has plenty of charm to carry off the potential sleaziness of the character without going over the top to keep him on the right side of likeable. He is perfectly matched by Clare Halse who as Judy is wonderfully playful and of course dazzling to watch during the dance sequences to ‘The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing’. There is also lovely chemistry between Danny Mac’s Bob and Danielle Hope’s Betty, capturing the blossoming of their relationship beautifully.
Meanwhile, Brenda Edwards is a force of nature as Martha, virtually bringing the house down with her performance of ‘Let Me Sing and I’m Happy’. She provides a great sense of comedy timing throughout, working well alongside Michael Brandon’s General Henry Waverly. The ensemble as well all work their socks off and their joy and enthusiasm throughout is infectious.
A joy from start to finish, White Christmas is a real treat that you will not want to miss out on.
By Emma Clarendon
White Christmas will play at the Dominion Theatre f until the 4th January. To book tickets click here or visit: See Tickets, Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk, Love Theatre.com, From the Box Office, West End Theatre Breaks, Last Minute.com and Encore Tickets .