AS EVERY generation of soldiers learns in its turn, the readjustment to civilian life can be a painful process. What’s irresistible about Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is its upbeat insistence that for those who miss the camaraderie of the battlefield, the best option is showbusiness, where team spirit and dedication are essential, if the show is to go on.
White Christmas - Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
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Set in Vermont at Christmas 1954 – with a prologue in war-torn Europe ten years earlier – the iconic film version of White Christmas features two ex-servicemen, Bob and Phil, who have built a post-war career as a song-and-dance double-act. For their old boss General Waverley, though, peacetime is proving difficult; and in no time Bob and Phil – and their two newfound girlfriends, the singing Haynes Sisters – are doing the show right there, at the General’s failing Vermont hotel, in an effort to mend his fortunes.
David Ives and Paul Blake’s 2004 stage version clings to the original storyline, and it’s brought to life with a warm, spectacular and rewarding energy in this well-established touring production from Plymouth Theatre Royal, at the Festival Theatre until 4 January. Steven Houghton and Paul Robinson are sharp and engaging in the two leading roles. And if the 1950s costumes are sometimes a shade garish, there’s still something irresistibly festive about the sight of a chorus of 16 dancers twirling their way through Blue Skies; with an excellent 15-piece band playing up a snowstorm, and binding together all the elements of a show that recalls a time, across the West, when people still believed they could build a world fit for heroes, and that they could do it with a smile, a song, and a rousing Broadway melody.