Saturday, 24 October 2015

"White Christmas"
Long Eaton Operatic Society.

If you have any doubts about a Christmas themed musical in October, then cast those doubts away because, when you scratch the surface of "White Christmas" it's all about friendship, loyalty and falling in love.

Bob Wallace and Phil Davies are ex army pals who become big stars and when they accidentally on purpose end up at the inn ran by their ex Commanding Officer in the army, whose inn isn't doing so well, they put ona show to help out. throw in a dollop of romance on the way and you've a great little story of friendship and romance.

Martin Mould (Bob) and Jack Draper (Phil) are at first not the most likely of pairings but this does work. Phil has an eye for the ladies and tries to play cupid between singer Betty Haynes and Bob. All goes a bit awry to start but, in the case of true love, this is the way, but ends happily.

Martin has a great crooning voice, which is perfect for the role while, if I'm honest, Jack can carry a tune but isn't the stronger of the two singers.Jack is though the better dancer of the two and looks really comfortable in every bit of choreography he performs.

The Haynes Sisters, Betty and Judy, the girl duo who Wallace and Davies take up to the Inn to help put on the show, are a lovely pairing. Claire Collishaw (Betty) and Siân Scattergood (Judy) look gorgeous throughout and sound so good together, as well as apart.Both excellent dancers as well.

Loved the characterisation of General Henry "Hank" Waverley played by Ross Lowe. looking a bit like John Cleese's character Basil Fawlty made the grumpiness and strictness seem all the more relevant for this role.

I've always had a soft spot for the General's keeper of the Inn, Martha Watson, played by Carrie-Anne Corner, who is a dead ringer for actress Wendi Peters, who I must admit is a guilty pleasure crush of mine. A wonderful character is Martha who also has a belter of a voice.

Susie, or should that be Susan, was a delight to watch as the Grand-daughter of the General, played by Megan Taylor.

Several other minor characters also stood out for me. Ben Woolley as Ezekial, the mono-syllabic worker in charge of the barn, Jack Woolley as the camp producer of the show within the show, and Adam Guest who took on several roles including the snoring man on the train and the slightly tipsy MC of the club.

A really strong cast throughout and some excellent ensemble numbers. Apart from the acting two things made this production the hit it was for me. the choreography was just amazing. Laurie Trott has worked really hard with this large cast and you could tell in the little things like extended lines, fingers and toes pointed as they should be in the ballroom dances. Some fantastic tap routines, in fact every dance style included here was carried out without a hitch. A tribute not only to Laurie but the obvious hard work that has been put in by everyone on stage.

The second was the brilliant orchestra conducted by Sam Griffiths. An amazing tight group of twelve which sounded much bigger than it was provided backing for some great numbers, never once drowning out the singers, complementing their voices perfectly and crystal clear as well.

My only niggle was with the microphones. I felt that the sound there could have been better because I've heard Martin and Jack sing several times before and I don't think the sound on their mics were as good as they could have been and didn't do justice to their voices. That's not something that the actors had a control over. Not a major distraction and not enough to stop me from loving this show to bits either.

Some brilliant songs here like "Sisters", "How Deep Is The Ocean","Happy Holidays". "I Love A Piano", "Let Me Sing And I'm Happy" and the wonderful torch song "Love You Didn't Do Right By Me", and of course the title song.

The closing of the show really brought the Christmas spirit alive with the rousing "White Christmas" and snow. made me want to break open a box of mince pies and pour a glass of mulled wine in front of a roaring fire.

"White Christmas" is on at May Hall, Trent College, Long Eaton until Saturday 24 October 2015.

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