Review Round-Ups

Did White Christmas bring festive cheers to critics?

The seasonal show based on the iconic film opened at the Dominion last week

'High-energy hoofing' - the cast of ''White Christmas, led by Tom Chambers and Aled Jones
'High-energy hoofing' – the cast of ''White Christmas, led by Tom Chambers and Aled Jones

Mark Valencia


As Irving Berlin understood better than anyone, there's no business like yuletide show business… Laden with great routines and good humour, [the 1954 film] had what this stage adaptation signally lacks, and that's lightness of touch… It has everything going for it: Randy Skinner's feisty choreography, superb costumes by Cathie Robbins (think fur hoods and red-and-white jumpers) and a succession of quick-change sets designed by Anna Louizos that never stint on spectacle.. the decision to treat White Christmas like a panto does it no favours… Dialogue is delivered with all the subtlety of a steamroller, leaving the book by David Ives and Paul Blake flattened in its wake.

Lyn Gardner


It liberally sprinkles snowflakes and cosiness and throws in an explosion of song and high-energy hoofing… The stage is so awash with syrupy sentiment that you fear somebody might slip and take a tumble… with a 2hr 45m running time, there are moments when you doubt that it really will be all over by 25 December… The good things are Irving Berlin's songs… The show revels sincerely and entirely without irony in the lost innocence and wholesomeness of 1950s America… David Ives and Paul Blake, who wrote the book for the stage show, appear to have been entirely untroubled by issues of momentum and plot clarity… It lacks sharpness and sparkle and mistakes mild bonhomie for comedy… Aled Jones sings beautifully but makes decency seem awfully dull, and Tom Chambers is suave but oddly charmless… Over-blown, over bland and over here until the New Year.

Fiona Mountford

Evening Standard

If you loathe the song – and the sentiment contained therein – then this really isn't the show for you… Adapted from the classic 1954 Michael Curtiz film, which memorably starred Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye and, above all, the indestructible songs of Irving Berlin, it’s an avalanche of festive goodwill…. Or, at least, it should be, as this affable production struggles to achieve such monumental proportions… Jones and Chambers are not the most natural pairing and their relationship is one of four in Morgan Young's production – the leading ladies, sisters Betty (Rachel Stanley) and Judy (Louise Bowden), inevitably couple up with the guys – that is likeable without oozing chemistry… The songs – "Sisters", "Blue Skies" and so on – are a perpetual delight, even if the narrative momentum gets stranded offstage for too-lengthy periods while the boys’ show is rehearsed… Ultimately and somewhat disappointingly, though, White Christmas left me with lukewarm cockles and a half-melted heart.

Dominic Cavendish

Daily Telegraph

If you’re keen to feel a warm Christmassy glow inside, you might be better off donating the admission price for this production to a homeless charity, rather than lavishing your dough on this cloyingly festive musical… The celluloid original easily outstrips this theatrical re-incarnation… One unavoidable issue about mounting Irving Berlin‘s White Christmas is the difficulty of finding the right leading men for the roles of Bob and Phil… I'm afraid that, grateful though I am to Aled Jones for "Walking in the Air" all those years ago, his performance as Bob is only a serviceable trudge in Crosby’s footsteps… [Tom Chambers] struggles to bring much personality to bear on his part… The stylish costumes, the wrapping-paper décor, the hummable-while-they-last tunes, the big-band vibe; all this is a boon… the old adage that "happiness writes white" rings familiar bells and I'm afraid that overall this dramatically flaky, commercially canny affair left me cold.

Laura Barnett

Time Out


This stage adaptation of the 1954 movie musical – touring since 2006, and newly installed at the Dominion – is as indulgent and seductive as a third helping of Christmas pudding… This production’s key achievement is to preserve these elements while throwing over a big handful of theatrical fairy dust (not to mention fake snow)… Aled Jones and Tom Chambers can’t quite match Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye for charisma (who could?), but they have a damn good try… Louise Bowden and Rachel Stanley are superb as singing sisters Judy and Betty Haynes… Designer Anna Louizos's sets are terrific… These set pieces are just delightful: the choreography is ambitious and fluid, the band excellent, and no, the big Bing Crosby song doesn’t disappoint… This is sparkly family entertainment, as festive as a reindeer eating a mince pie in Santa’s grotto. I defy anyone not to come out smiling.