Snowtime in Gislingham!
The 2018 Christmas production by Gislingham Variety Club of Irving Berlin’s much-loved musical White Christmas certainly set the cast a really demanding challenge. But the essence of this festive favourite was well captured by the energetic players including some familiar faces as well as young and talented newcomers who all managed to capture the humour, pathos, romance, misunderstandings, and subterfuge that punctuated the story.
A stark minimalistic set provided the background for the tale of the shenanigans of Broadway entertainers Bob Wallace and Phil Davis played by Richard Adams & Richard Pursehouse as they are inveigled into helping their beloved old army commanding officer Major General Thomas F. Waverley now retired and the owner of the struggling Columbia Inn in Pine Tree Vermont. By staging a Christmas production, they hope to attract guests to the snow-less hotel. Snow seemingly being the reason people visited in the winter months.
Along the way romance flourishes, bills go unpaid, lovers have tiffs, cast jealousy rears its head and a would be show debutante tries so hard and succeeds in getting in on the act – a real show stopping performance from Leah Durrant.
Marion Simpson’s strong comic characterisations honed over the years in many Variety Club productions really shone in the hotel scenes. We were treated to some of Irving Berlin’s well-loved songs ably accompanied by pianist John Overton which had instant audience recognition and helped drive the emotional narrative including a fine rendition of ‘sisters’ by Michelle Norris and Abigail Hardman (the Haynes Sisters).
It was good to see so many younger players being involved in the chorus with some spirited singing and tap dancing – and yes, we did get snow eventually in Vermont! White Christmas was a brave choice and Karen Rainbird is to be congratulated on having the courage to direct and inspire the cast who did their very their best to create an evening of enjoyment.