Review: Sally Ann Triplett steals the show as White Christmas comes to the Edinburgh Playhouse
"I'm dreaming of a White Christmas..." sings Matthew Jeans, as GI Bob Wallace, at the start of Irving Berlin's timeless musical, White Christmas, this year's seasonal offering at The Playhouse.
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White Christmas, Four Stars (out of five)
Edinburgh Playhouse, Greenside Place
By the end of the show the entire company and audience have joined him in the big reprise of the song made famous by Bing Crosby and a singalong certainly seemed the perfect way to end this festive feelgood celebration of post-war America.
It's Christmas Eve 1944 and General Henry Waverly interrupts a concert party led by GIs Bob Wallace and Phil Davis to take his leave of the 151st Division - the audience - as he prepares to leave the army behind and re-enter civilian life.
Fast forward 10 years, and Wallace and Davis are A-listers appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show where a twist of fate finds them hooking up with singing sensations, the Haynes Sisters, Betty and Judy, who they quickly fall in league, and eventually in love, with... although there are misunderstandings a plenty along the way as the four embark on an 'angle' to save The Columbia Inn, Pine Tree, Vermont, after discovering it’s owned by General Waverly who has sunk his pension and life savings into the hotel and is now facing bankruptcy.
As Bob Wallace, Matthew Jeans makes for a thoughtful protagonist with fluid dance moves as he delivers Stephen Mears' slinky choreography with snake hips and a smile.
With a wink to the audience and an ever present twinkle in his eye, Dan Burton charms the ladies and the audience with his ‘cheeky chappie’ take on Phil Davis.
Both have their stand out moments, for Jeans it's a fine delivery of Blue Skies to close Act One, while Burton comes into his own in the big production number, I Love A Piano, near the top of Act Two. The pair also have great fun and get the laughs they deserve in an amusing parody of the Haynes Sisters' number, Sisters. You know the one, 'Never were there such devoted... etc'.
And talking of the Haynes girls, Jessica Daley makes Betty an easy to love creation while her rich warm vocals are a highlight of the production. Emily Langham's Judy, meanwhile, is a wonderfully bossy yet immensely likeable character. Together they bounce off each other perfectly.
As the General, Duncan Smith could have walked straight off the battlefield. Stoic, yet with a deeply caring heart hidden beneath his gruff exterior, he is the perfect foil for Sally Ann Triplett's gloriously camp Martha Watson, manager of The Columbia Inn, one time Broadway belter and President of Busibodies Anonymous.
Triplett is funny, sassy and brings an infectious energy to every scene she appears in making this White Christmas her show. It’s her performance alone that wins the show a fourth star although a special shout must also go to Kraig Thornber's Ezekiel, who steals a scene or two.
Slick choreography, big set pieces and confident direction by Ian Talbot make this production a pleasantly laid back experience with just the right amount of Christmas spirit, relying instead on a moving finale to capture the true meaning of the season.
Runs until January 2