Tag Archives: Louise Bowden

“White Christmas” at the Dominion Theatre

Christmas has come early to the Dominion Theatre, with Irving Berlin’s White Christmas up and running with plenty of ho, ho, ho. Anyone with even the smallest tendency to bah humbug should look away now; the show is unapologetically sentimental and nostalgic. After all, this is the time of year we can all embrace clichés comfortably and the 1954 film the show is adapted from is one of those very clichés.

The story, for what it’s worth, sees former soldiers Bob and Phil, now successful Broadway stars, saving their old general’s hotel by – you’ve guessed it – putting on a show. It helps that the receptionist at the inn is a Mermanesque singer and that the general’s granddaughter is a budding performer. The proceedings cement Bob and Phil’s relationships with two other performers, siblings Betty and Judy, and serve as a framework for many a hit tune: Blue Skies, I Love A Piano, Let Yourself Go and, for Betty and Judy of course, Sisters.

White Christmas has already toured successfully, so it runs very smoothly indeed, but it’s a perfect fit for the West End. And it’s nice to be back in the grand space of the Dominion after many years away. It was the home of We Will Rock You (which, for the record, I didn’t think was that bad) and the shows are as camp and silly as each other.

Taking the lead roles are Aled Jones and Tom Chambers, capably joined by Rachel Stanley and Louise Bowden as their love interests. Wendi Peters has a gift of a role as Martha and seems very happy with it, belting out the numbers with aplomb. Jones doesn’t seem all that comfortable on stage. It’s a shame he can’t do much with the comedy in the piece, but he’s really there to sing and you can’t fault him there. Chambers is more impressive, looking great and dancing very well indeed – it strikes me he had an unfair advantage on Strictly, he’s a real pro.

It’s the dancing in the piece that really makes White Christmas worth seeing. Aided by a fine orchestra with a big band feel and making the most of a large ensemble, choreographer Randy Skinner makes the show feel value for money and something to leave the TV for over Christmas. Seasonal appeal lets the production get away with a lot of schmaltz, but there’s just enough of a story to keep you going and plenty to dazzle, right up to a climax, which includes a whatever the collective noun should be for silly jumpers.

Until 3 January 2015


“Singin’ in the Rain” at the Palace Theatre

Now well into its second successful year in the West End, director Jonathan Church’s acclaimed production of Singin’ in the Rain is a reverential remake of the beloved MGM film. Determined to create the feelgood factor and equipped with enough simulated showers to make sure it does just that, recent changes in the cast mean a new set of talented performers drench and delight those in the front rows of the Palace Theatre.

The newest cast member is Jennifer Ellison in the role of silent movie star Lina Lamont, whose career is endangered by the introduction of talking pictures – incompatible with her hilarious Noo Yawk accent. Ellison reproduces the voice in fine style, with a larger-than-life delivery perfect for the role.

Also a recent addition to the show, Louise Bowden plays the female lead Kathy Selden to whose vocals Lamont lip-syncs. And what a beautiful voice it is. Even better, Bowden’s dancing is divine. Adding the comedy to the show is Stephane Annelli as Cosmo Brown, who gives an appealing performance and an athletic rendition of my favourite number, Make ‘em Laugh.

Despite the wonderful songs Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed wrote for the film, Singin’ in the Rain is really all about dancing. Thankfully, still in the main role, the fantastic Adam Cooper is more than up to the job. Making the whole thing look as easy as anything, he is a joy to watch. The accomplished ensemble join him and have plenty of fun with choreographer Andrew Wright’s clever renditions of the famous numbers. But all eyes are on Cooper as, amazing as it sounds, he gives a performance of which even Gene Kelly would have been proud.

Until 8 June 2013

Photo by Manuel Harlan

Written 7 March 2013 for The London Magazine