Tuesday, 27 January 2015

WHITE CHRISTMAS by Christchurch Theatre Club
Loughborough Town Hall

Tonight was my first visit to the beautiful theatre that is in Loughborough Town Hall, as well as my first experience of the Christchurch Theatre Club (CTC) and what an introduction to both. The theatre is gorgeous and modern with brilliant acoustics, comfortable and extremely welcoming. The CTC were outstanding in this Irving Berlin musical about a couple of ex army boys who become big stars and use their fame to help out their old General by putting on  a show to raise funds for him to pay the bills on the Columbia Inn in Vermont.

From start to end this production oozes class and utmost professionalism. the two heroes from the army, Bob Wallace and Phil Davies, played by Lyndon Perry and Craig Butterworth respectively, proved to be just as adept as Kaye and Crosby in their portrayals of the song and dance stars in the musical. The natural comedy relationship between Wallace and Davies was spot on and made for a very comfortable pairing, especially with their take on The Haynes Sisters main song in the musical, "Sisters".

The Haynes Sisters, the pair who were  to end up as the female counterparts of Wallace and Davies were played by the very gorgeous Gemma Farnell and Anja Palmer. Both very easy on the eye as well as the ear. Both had lovely voices and proved that they could dance, sing and act all at the same time. I've seen professional productions who have had actors who fail in doing this convincingly.

General Henry "Hank" Waverly's authority was stamped by Guy Benson, often slipping back to his regimental routines but softening at the end. Another classy performance.

I love Martha Watson's character as the woman who kept the Columbia Inn ticking over, protecting the General from the pile of bills slowly getting bigger than a Columbian snow drift. She is ballsy and she knows who is really in charge. This wonderful character was played with zest by Anita Benson.

Oh and then there is the "aaahhh" factor with Susie, sorry Susan, the General's Granddaughter. Cheeky but oh so cute, especially with her "audition" for the musical revue, copying Martha's signature tune of "Let me Sing And I'm Happy". this little cutie role shared by Ava Kinch and Scarlett Robinson. It was Scarlett who performed on Tuesday and what a confident job she did as well.

A big cast with some standout comedy roles such as Ezekial Foster ( George Stackhouse), Ralph (Sean Hickling) and Rita and Rhoda ( Holly Easter and Vicky Mee).

Some wonderful dance and tap routines, choreographed by Carl Brierley-Edwards, you will love the vintage costumes and the amazing sets, designed by Scenic Projects Ltd. the sets were placed so fast and smoothly that everything just flowed so well with no waiting between scenes. Excellent lighting and effects added to the magic of this show. Oh and talking of fast and smooth, there were some rapid fire costume changes from all of the main characters as well.

What a great little orchestra as well. Punchy and swinging with crystal clarity which complemented the singers on stage without trying to drown them out, A job done well by MD Vicki Hing.

On the music front there are some of Irving Berlin's classic songs here, not just the title song but classics like "How Deep is The Ocean", "Let Yourself Go", "Sisters". "Blue Skies", "Count Your Blessings" and ending up with "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm".

I don't think anything I say can really express how good this show and the CTC is but I loved it. I love a company who can show that they have really worked hard on a production and this really shows here. A professional show from the first note to the last bow and an incredibly enjoyable show that appeals to every age group.

Please check if there are return tickets available as I know that these shows sold out last year, and to tell the truth, tonight proved why this was the case. I can't wait for their next production, "Ghost" in May, also at the Loughborough Town Hall.

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