White Christmas is a cracker of a show

White Christmas was a treat of a show.
White Christmas was a treat of a show.

Starlight Theatre Productions, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Newcastle, Tuesday, November 22.

Christmas came early with Starlight Theatre Productions’ cracker of a festive show.

There were slick dance routines and fine vocals.

There were slick dance routines and fine vocals.

The talented group performed Irving Berlin’s classic musical romantic comedy, White Christmas.

And it was a treat of a production which did justice to this renowned seasonal favourite.

The show centres on Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, a vaudeville act who serve in the Army during the Second World War, before returning to civilian life. During a stint on the Ed Sullivan show, they meet the Haynes sisters, Betty and Judy.

Phil and Judy hit it off, with the result that Phil manipulates Bob and they end up in Vermont with the girls.

By coincidence, the men’s Army Commander, General Waverley, owns the inn where they end up.

Unfortunately he is a better General than an innkeeper and the quartet set out to save him from bankruptcy by staging a Broadway-style production in his barn.

Along the way, there’s humour, pathos, a few misunderstandings, romance and some snow!

In the programme notes, director/choreographer Val Shield said that the show’s principals could rival many professionals.

On the evidence of the opening night on Tuesday, she is quite right.

Michael James Brown (Bob), Rebecca Watson (Betty), Lucy Sutton (Judy) and James Forster (Phil) were outstanding as the lead characters. Their vocals were top notch and their acting was a delight.

What was impressive was the cast’s strength in depth, as the principals were ably supported by the likes of Brian Berry (General Waverley), Katie Howes (Martha Watson) and Alan Tomkins (Sheldrake).

Howes, in particular, was one of the stand-outs on the night, with her powerful voice blasting out the catchy song, Let Me Sing and I’m Happy.

One of the highlights on opening evening was the performance of talented 11-year-old Abigail Ferguson (Susan). She is clearly a star in the making and showed that she can sing as well as act. She is sharing the role with Kady Martin, 10.

Meanwhile, Ken Anderson raised many a laugh as cleaner and handyman Ezekiel.

Away from the acting, the dancing was eye-catching, polished and very professional, especially the tap-dance routine during Happy Holiday/Let Yourself Go, while the song Snow was nicely choreographed.

The staging was fairly simple, with effective use of nicely-presented backdrops. And there was even some ‘snow’ dropped into the auditorium at the end, making for a truly White Christmas.

The show runs until tomorrow and tickets are still available.

With its well-known songs, including the much-loved title track White Christmas, high-octane dance numbers and fine acting, Starlight Theatre Productions’ festive production is an early present and kicks off the festive season in style.

CAST: Abigail Ferguson; Alan Tomkins; Alison Gilroy; Andrew Ewart; Bethan Martin; Brian Barry; Caroline Gallon; Christine Hully; Danielle Mendes; David Rawlings; Emma Taylor; Hannah Elliot; James Forster; Jaques Hudson; Jenn Tweddell; Kady Martin; Katie Howes; Ken Anderson; Kim Wilde; Linda Short; Louise Armstrong; Lucy Sutton; Luke Fairless; Maurice Kelly; Michael Brown; Michael Taphouse; Michaela Newham; Rachel Ayre; Rebecca Watson; Stan Hind.