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White Christmas

Pitlochry Festival Theatre
4 stars
In terms of scene-setting, the snow-dappled Perthshire hills beyond the 
theatre already gave director John Durnin a head start for his 
production of the classic Irving Berlin-scored musical. While It’s 
remarkable that David Ives and Paul Blake’s stage version of Michael 
Curtiz’ 1954 big-screen vehicle for Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye has only 
been around since 2004, it’s a gift to see a show normally reserved for 
the commercial circuit in such refreshingly close-up form. Beyond the 
uber-slick song and dance routines from a twenty-strong cast plus an 
exuberant ten-piece band, it’s also a fascinatingly telling period 
piece.

Ex GIs turned big-time double act Bob and Phil wind up in an 
unseasonally sunny Vermont for Christmas with sisters Betty and Judy. 
With their former general’s hotel in hock, Bob and Phil conspire to put 
on a benefit gig for the old boy, doing the decent thing with the girls 
en route.

As Bob and Phil, Grant Neal and Simon Coulthard are matinee idol 
troupers to the last, with Martine McMenemy and Eleanor Brown equally 
game foils as Betty and Judy. While Jacqueline Dutoit’s hard-bitten 
Martha steals the show,it’s  Chris Stuart-Wilson’s choreography, Hilary 
Brooks’ musical arrangements and Adrian Rees’ perfectly 
colour-ordinated set and costumes that give the production its oomph.
On one level, this is a feel-good winter warmer originally designed to 
ease the post-World War Two fall-out for ex-service-men. As with any 
showbiz musical, there’s also something going on about how the power of 
song, dance and performance can enliven and inspire a community to 
rally together. Let’s hope the board of Creative Scotland who were in 
attendance on opening night got the message.

The Herald, December 11th 2012

ends


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