Updated: Dec 5, 2022
Irving Berlin’s timeless classic, for many the signal that the run up to Christmas can officially begin, is currently at Sunderland Empire and is packed full of nostalgia, some wonderful dancing and a brilliant cast.
Army veterans Bob Wallace (Jay McGuiness) and Phil Davis (Dan Burton) are the all-singing, all-dancing duo who decide to follow the wonderful Haynes Sisters, Betty (Jessica Daley) & Judy (Monique Young) to a Vermont lodge for a special Christmas show. On the way they rehearse and review classic Berlin hits such as ‘Blue Skies’, ‘Count your Blessings’ and ‘The Best Things Happen’ but it is once they arrive that their rhythm is thrown off and they discover the lodge happens to be owned by Bob and Phil’s old Army General, Henry Waverly (Michael Starke), who is in desperate need of their help.
Cue some riotous comedy as the guys try to woo the girls while also planning the show of shows in an attempt to help rescue the lodge. Brilliant madcap “Sisters” tear-jerking “The Old Man” and of course, the most famous Christmas song ever written “White Christmas” make the 2nd act feel like having a warm blanket wrapped around you. Everyone in the audience, young and old, were enthralled by the whole show, a most magical way to start the holiday period and, dare I say, even better than the original movie.
Directed by Ian Talbot, Choreographed by Stephen Mear and with brilliant set design by Michael Taylor, it feels like you have slipped into an old Christmas card – all that was missing was to have had real snow falling as we left the theatre. Particular note was the variety of the dance routines, everything from tap to jazz, big ballroom numbers and intimate little swings, all performed with perfection.
A sure fire 10 out of 10 show, let the Sunderland Empire start your Christmas period with a massive smile.