Tag Archives: Anna Louizos

REVIEW: White Christmas – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

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This post was originally writen for and published by The Public Reviews at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/irving-berlins-white-christmas-festival-theatre-edinburgh/

Book: David Ives & Paul Blake

Music & Lyrics: Irving Berlin

Director: Andrew Corcoran

Choreographer: Randy Skinner

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★☆

If it’s a great big glittery Hallmark card of a show you are after, filled with nostalgia, sentiment and good old-fashioned Christmas spirit thenIrving Berlin’s White Christmas at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre is the show for you.

Based upon the 1954 Paramount Pictures’ classic movie, and following its storyline with a few edits here and there for the stage, fans of the original film will not be disappointed. It tells the story of two army veterans Phil Davis (Paul Robinson) and Bob Wallace (Steven Houghton). De-mobbed after WWII the pair become TV stars and at the height of their fame are contacted by an old army pal with two sisters trying to get their big showbiz break. Instead of rehearsing their new show in Miami the guys follow the gals to an inn in Vermont where they are performing for the winter season. There they find the owner, their old General, Henry Waverly (Graham Cole) and his feisty concierge (and Broadway veteran) Martha (Wendi Peters). Unseasonably warm weather has driven the tourists away and General Waverly is in danger of losing everything. Mayhem, mishaps, misunderstandings and munificence ensue and the true spirit of Christmas shines through.

This is a sparkling, sumptuous and sure-footed show staged with great charm. Beautifully realised, the production scores highly on period detail; Anna Louizos’ sets are as much of a star as the talented cast. The songs of Irving Berlin, in particular ‘Blue Skies’, ‘I Love a Piano’ and, of course, the title song, are a treat for the ear and will delight both fans of this musical era and those new to the tunes.

There are a brace of fine central performances, in particular Wendi Peters as Martha, a pint-sized Ethel Merman with a Broadway belt and Paul Robinson as Phil, a true triple threat, he has fine comic timing to add to his acting, dancing and singing skills. As sister act Betty and Judy Haynes, Rachel Stanley and Jayde Westaby perfectly evoke that glamorous feisty 1950’s gal. The ensemble too are universally worthy of the highest praise particularly in the big, show-stopping production numbers and tap-dance fans will delight at their execution of Randy Skinner’s vibrant choreography.

There were undoubtedly a few opening night nerves which shook a bit of the Christmas glitter off and ultimately robbed the show of a fifth star in the rating but as the cast bed further into their roles I’m sure it will fulfill its potential to be the show to see this Christmas.

Vivid, vibrant and visually stunning, a treat for the ears and eyes and set to be as timeless a classic as its movie namesake.

Runs until 4th January 2014 at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

All images courtesy: http://www.edtheatres.com/

REVIEW: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

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A show based upon the short story The Sobbin’ Women by Stephen Vincent Benet, itself based upon the Roman myth of the rape of the Sabine women, wouldn’t appear to be the basis for an ideal night’s musical entertainment, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The classic Seven Brides for Seven Brothers running this week at the King’s Theatre is a good old-fashioned, high-energy romp of the highest quality.

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Image by Geraint Lewis

Backwoods boy Adam Pontipee (Sam Attwater) comes to town to find a wife, in a few short hours he meets and marries the orphaned Millie (Helena Blackman), a sparky gal with a dream of a better life. Adam takes Millie to his mountain home where she finds that she and her new husband are not alone, Adam’s six uncouth and unkempt little brothers live there too. Millie sets about making the best of her lot and the best of her new family, turning them into eligible young men.

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Image by Geraint Lewis

There are of course a few ups and downs in this country idyll but it isn’t the slight plot that drives this show, rather the highly intricate and beautifully executed dance routines choreographed by Patti Colombo, chief amongst them the glorious ‘Social Dance’. The cast have to be commended for the athleticism, energy and commitment they bring to the piece. Helena Blackman has a top-notch voice worthy of any West End stage and whilst Sam Attwater’s voice lacks a bit of belt it is highly melodic with a beautiful tone that’s easy on the ear. Much of the cast are fresh from stage school and a few leave an excellent impression: Sam Stones delivers a nice comic turn as wayward brother Frank and Pip Hersee as Ephraim is a fine dancer. The male ensemble too are of uniformly excellent quality and the sound the male cast members make when they sing as one is a treat for the ears. If one criticism has to be levelled at the performance then it is the poor diction of many of the cast which renders much of the dialogue incomprehensible.

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Image by Geraint Lewis

Praise must also go to the set design by Anna Louizo, complemented by Nick Richings atmospheric lighting which is nicely evocative of 19th Century Oregon, there’s a town, a log cabin, a pine forest and even an avalanche thrown in for good measure.

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Image by Geraint Lewis

This may be an old-fashioned romp but this timeless classic could never be accused of being out of date. Thoroughly entertaining, highly recommended – as good as it ever was.

Runs until Saturday at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow