White Christmas is a tad subversive. It may have all the hallmarks we expect of a cheery romantic comedy, with big sparkly Irving Berlin numbers and a cast with gleaming, snowcapped grins, yet the story is just as much about reunion and giving thanks for what we have as it is about enjoying a good old Bing Crosby-style singalong.
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Not a Christmas reunion in the sense of mum and dad and three cute children shaking presents curiously under the tree but a reunion with the family we forge under difficult circumstances and the people we break bread with over the dinner table while we think of our loved ones celebrating without us thousands of miles away.
Opening on Christmas Eve 1944, our daring leads Bob and Phil are entertaining their cohort of troops somewhere on a European front. Fast forward a decade and kismet brings them to the door of their former general who is in desperate need of their help.
The final act’s poignant reprise of We’ll Follow The Old Man, will rip the heart out of anyone thinking of loved ones serving overseas this festive season. The song Count Your Blessings also has a number of reprises laced through the show, reminding us of all the things we have to be grateful about in our peacetime lives. It’s a much more Christian and meaningful message than the ritzy musical comedy overtones would have you believe.
The piece is sung to Susan Waverley, portrayed with erudite confidence by 12-year-old Edinburgh local Erin Mooney.
Playing a sober and forthright Bob Wallace, Corrie alumnus Steven Houghton carries the show comfortably alongside comic foil Phil Davis, a smooth operating Paul Robinson. Three strong turns came from the female leads, with Wendi Peters’ Martha Watson a formidable delight while Rachel Stanley’s Betty Haynes was all you’d wish of a feisty Fifties firecracker. Jade Westaby, as sister Judy Haynes, manages to imbue her character with a great deal of presence given her limited scripting and stage time. Swapping one uniform for another, The Bill’s Graham Cole plays aging General Waverly with foggy dignity, while Phil Cole’s turn as bemused Ezekiel is delectable.
• Run ends January 4