Previewed 8 November 2014, Opened 12 November 2014, Closed 3 January 2015 at the Dominion Theatre in London
Irving Berlin's musical White Christmas in London starring Aled Jones and Tom Chambers for a strictly limited holiday season.
Irving Berlin's White Christmas the Musical tells the story of Bob Wallace and Phil David, two successful Broadway partners who become romantically involved with the Haynes Sisters. On vacation in Vermont they stay at a ski resort owned by the boy's former Army General and run by Martha, his wise-cracking housekeeper. The boys discover they are the only guests because there is no snow! They help out the General by staging their Broadway bound Revue at the resort as well as making a television appeal to their army buddies to show up on Christmas Eve. The result is a spectacular and emotional finale.
This major production of Irving Berlin's White Christmas the Musical promises to be a merry and bright theatrical experience for the whole family - full of tap dancing, laughter and some of the greatest songs ever written including Let Yourself Go, Sisters, The Best Things Happen When You're Dancing, Snow, Count Your Blessings, How Deep Is The Ocean and, of course, the title song, White Christmas all played by a 17-piece orchestra.
The 30-strong cast for White Christmas in London stars Aled Jones as 'Bob Wallace' and Tom Chambers as 'Phil Davis' along with Wendi Peters as 'Martha', Graham Cole as 'General Waverley', Rachel Stanley as 'Betty Haynes' and Louise Bowden as 'Judy Haynes'. This production is directed by Morgan Young with choreography by Randy Skinner, set by Anna Louizos, costumes by Carrie Robbins, lighting by Ken Billington, sound by Clem Rawling, orchestrations by Larry Blank, dance and vocal arrangements by Bruce Pomahac and musical direction by Andrew Corcoran with UK associate choreography by Helen Rymer. Adapted for the stage by David Ives and Paul Blake from the Paramount Pictures movie with screenplay by Norman Krasna, Norman Panama and Melvin Frank and music and lyrics by Irving Berlin.
When this production opened here at the Dominion Theatre in November 2014 Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph wrote that the show "seemingly compresses 12 days' worth of hearty good cheer into two and a half hours... with a lightweight storyline barely embellished by librettists David Ives and Paul Blake, you are mainly left admiring baubles. The stylish costumes, the wrapping-paper decor, the hummable-while-they-last tunes, the big-band vibe." Neil Norman in the Daily Express described how "comprehensively mired in Eisenhower-era America it resists re-upholstering for a modern audience and its sentimental patriotism is a schlock to the system. The only way to treat it is as a nostalgia-fest for Bing Crosby fans... This production at least reveals the songs lying beneath the shadow of the biggest selling single of all time and the cast performs with barnstorming gusto. Even the orchestra manages to replicate the brassy wallop of a 1950s' big band." Lyn Gardner in the Guardian commented that "it liberally sprinkles snowflakes and cosiness and throws in an explosion of song and high-energy hoofing... and the opportunity to wallow in uncomplicated good cheer with a large side helping of nostalgia. The show revels sincerely and entirely without irony in the lost innocence and wholesomeness of 1950s America." Sam Marlowe in the Times highlighted that "Aled Jones and Tom Chambers are engaging in roles made famous by Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye... This show is amiable enough, but tacky as tinsel and as artificial as a plastic conifer. A big, gooey dollop of Christmas kitsch." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail said "the producers have gone into this with a sure idea of their middle-aged (and possibly under-13s) market and they deliver the goods for anyone wanting a night of old-fashioned, melody-laden, spangly costumed American schmaltz." Paul Taylor in the Independent highlighted that "you may feel that you've endured an entire lifetime of Christmases, white and otherwise, by the end of this amiable, lavish, dynamically danced, but dramatically insipid and ersatz-seeming stage-musical version of the famous 1954 movie." Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times noted that "in some ways, the most Christmassy thing about the show is the casting of Aled Jones... he works extremely well in the Bing Crosby role as Bob Wallace and is particularly suited to the gently wry mood of the character." Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard thought that with "the indestructible songs of Irving Berlin, it's an avalanche of festive goodwill. Or, at least, it should be, as this affable production struggles to achieve such monumental proportions."
"Most stage adaptations of movies make at least a teensy-weensy attempt to reinvent the piece in theatrical terms. Not White Christmas. It further irons out an already Christmas-card-flat plat and in almost every other way this old-fashioned show is merely a bland, if efficient, replica of the marvellous movie... Never mind, Irving Berlin's songbook, much of it a sort of musical weather forecast (Blue Skies, Love And The Weather, Snow, White Christmas) is a watertight winner. The single new idea has been to give the general a young granddaughter to belt her way charmingly through Let Me Sing And I'm Happy. She's a very welcome breath of fresh air." The Mail on Sunday
"White Christmas adapts remarkably well for the stage. The show wins no prizes for subtlety... If the emotions are as synthetic as the snow that falls on cast and audience alike at the final curtain, the songs are the genuine article. Such Berlin standards as Blue Skies and Let Yourself Go have been seamlessly interpolated into an already rich score. With Alec Jones's soaring voice and breezy charm and Tom Chambers's dynamic dancing, this is a show that even Scrooge would enjoy." The Sunday Express
"Downing this hypersweet cocktail based on the 1954 movie musical isn't utterly intoxicating, but it leaves you with a satisfying sense of good cheer - like sipping a snowball next to a cosy fireside. Morgan Young's safely traditional staging doesn't shy away from the corniness and "count your blessings" platitudes of this piece of Americana... Yet, while the production is continuously entertaining, the rapport between the leading men is a little thin. Alec Jones brings vocal virtuosity and an innocent amiability to the Crosby role, but he makes a prim romancer. And don't expect cascades of snow." The Sunday Times
Tom Chambers' West End stage credits include Irving Berlin's Top Hat the Musical (Aldwych Theatre 2012). His television credits include the role of 'Sam Strachan' in Holby City and the role of 'Max Tyler' in Waterloo Road. He also took part and won the 2008 series of Strictly Come Dancing along with his professional dance partner, Camilla Dallerup. Aled Jones is making his West End musical theatre debut in this production. His 1985 cover version of 'Walking in the Air' from the film adaptation of Raymond Briggs's book The Snowman reached the top five in the pop charts. In recent years he has become known as a presenter on various television programmes including Songs of Praise, Escape to the Country and Daybreak. He also took part in the 2004 series of Strictly Come Dancing along with his professional dance partner Lilia Kopylova, coming in fourth place.
White Christmas in London at the Dominion Theatre previewed from 8 November 2014, opened on 12 November 2014 and closed on 3 January 2015.