Review ‘White Christmas’ -BOS Musical Theatre Group

whitechristmas

Local performers from the BOS Musical Theatre Group are performing “White Christmas” by Irving Berlin between Saturday 19th to Saturday 26th November at 7.30pm, including a matinee performance on Saturday 26th at 2pm .  The musical is based on the well-known film, and features some of Berlin’s best known songs including “Blue Skies”, “Snow”, “Count your Blessings” and of course “White Christmas”.  Without giving too much away, if you’re not familiar with the story, it is set in 1944 just behind the lines where the American troops are waiting to go into battle. They are being entertained by one of the Captains, and it’s nearly Christmas.  The years roll on, there’s love for some, and not so much love for others, but in the end, in true Hollywood style, everything works out beautifully, just in time for a ‘White Christmas’.

I attended the opening night performance on Saturday 19th November with a couple of friends; we’ve seen another production by the BOS group previously (‘9 to 5’ back in April 2016) so were eagerly anticipating the music and fun the evening was going to bring.  One of the performers, Christian Slingsby (playing Phil Davis), is a good friend of ours, having performed with my 2 friends and I in the Lincoln Cathedral production of Jesus Christ Superstar back in 2015.  We were expecting great things having seen him play Franklin Hart Jnr in ‘9-5’ earlier this year and once again we weren’t disappointed, especially the uniform (and lack of it at certain moments!)

white-christmas-dress-1-9381

There were stand-out performances from some of the cast, in particular 10 year old Alice Parkin (playing Susan Waverly), who thrilled the audience from the moment she came on stage.

white-christmas-dress-1-9295

Her comedic timing, from someone so young was impeccable, and that, added to her American accent, her singing voice in ‘Let me sing and I’m happy’ and her dancing ability certainly gives us all a name to look out for in the future; definitely a star in the making!

white-christmas-dress-1-9486

Rob Callaby (playing Bob Wallace) had a beautiful voice following in the footsteps of the legend, Bing Crosby, and Andrea Townshend (playing Betty Haynes) really made the audience sit up and take notice of the beautiful ‘Love you didn’t do right by me’ in which she duetted with Rob at the same time singing ‘How deep is the ocean’.

 

white-christmas-dress-1-9539

Despite it being a Saturday night (and me missing my weekly fix of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing), we were entertained with a variety of dancing;  the cast mixed it up with tap and several different ballroom styles with a very intricate routine from Christian and Lucy Allen (who played Judy Haynes).

white-christmas-dress-1-9460

I have to mention 2 other cast members that were memorable for completely different and individual reasons.   I could have easily mistaken Ray Featherby (playing General Henry Waverly) as an American, rather than an Englishman playing an American, his accent was astounding (I read in the programme that he’d tested out his American accent on his sister who has lived in the USA for 40 years, she too was impressed!)

white-christmas-dress-1-9391

And Kim Sands (playing Martha Watson); I’d seen her previously in ‘9 to 5’ and she impressed me then, but in this show, the part of Martha was perfectly suited to Kim’s comedy style and personality.

white-christmas-dress-1-9488white-christmas-dress-1-9490white-christmas-dress-1-9526

Thank you to Stuart Bull, Director, Katy Tabor and John Sabberton, both Assistant Co-Director/Producers, Anthony E Grunwell, Musical Director and Abi Kingsley-Parker, Choreographer for their hard work in bringing this production to the Blackfriars Theatre, as well as everyone else involved, backstage, lighting, crew and musicians.

Prior to coming to see the show, I got in touch with Rob Barclay, Chairman and Director of BOS Musical Theatre Group to ask for his help in finding out a bit more about the cast of White Christmas;  here’s what I found out:

Andrea Townshend tells us about playing Betty Haynes and her previous experiences in theatre:

white-christmas-dress-1-9329

  1. How long have you been involved in theatre and how did you get started? 

I started dancing at 4 years old with local dance school Allen School of Dance and I had my first onstage leading role in one of their shows when I was about 8 years old. At the age of 16 I went to The Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London and got a 3 year performing arts degree. I returned to Boston and took part in several shows in the 1990’s including the lead role of Sally Bowles in Cabaret. I then emigrated to New Zealand where I performed as Rumpleteaser in CATS at the Civic Theatre in Auckland. Since returning to the UK and having children I have taken on numerous roles both in the chorus and as a lead with BOS. 

  1. What has been the show that you’ve most enjoyed being part of?

My favorite BOS role of recent times has to be Calamity Jane. Although Sally Bowles was also an amazing role, as was Charity Hope Valentine in Sweet Charity. 

  1. What is your favourite part/song from this show?

I have several favourites songs in this show – if I had to pick just one it would be ‘Love you didn’t do right by me’. My children would probably choose ‘Count your Blessings instead of Sheep’ which is their current favourite bedtime song.

  1. If you could work with any actor or actress, from past or present, who would it be and why?

Barbara Streisand – she has been my inspiration for many years. 

  1. What is the one theatrical character you’d love to play and why?

Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, I have always loved the movie and recently saw Sheridan Smith play the part at the Savoy Theatre in London….. Amazing! 

Rob Callaby tells us a bit more about himself and his views on theatre, and this production in particular:

white-christmas-dress-1-9288

 

  1. How long have you been involved in theatre and how did you get started?

I really started doing shows in my last year of college after a friend encouraged me to get involved so that makes it about 18 years now. 

  1. What has been the show that you’ve most enjoyed being part of?

I have done a lot of amazing shows over the years but I can probably narrow it down to 3.   The Edinburgh Fringe was my first show with the Cambridge colleges called ‘Closer than Ever’ which was an amazing experience. The other two are more recent playing Seymour in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ in Spalding and around the same time I had the great pleasure of playing Judas in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ in Boston with BOS MTG.

  1. What, for you, makes a great performance?

Obviously as a performer you want to nail every part of your performance but from my point of view it’s a great performance if the audience enjoy the show and leave with a buzz

  1. What do you do to prepare yourself for your performance and to get into character?

I personally try to arrive at the theatre early so everything is organised and in place which gives me time to relax and focus in on my character. I think if you can get a good feel for the motivations and emotions of your character and relate that to your own experiences that really helps.

  1. What is your favourite part/song from this show?

I feel really lucky to have some beautiful songs in the show but I would say that the song ‘How deep is the Ocean’ which is intertwined with Betty singing ‘Love You didn’t do right by me’ is stunningly beautiful and emotional

  1. If you could work with any actor or actress, from past or present, who would it be and why?

There are lots of actors and actresses I admire and would love to work with, however from a Musical Theatre point of view I would have to say Frank Sinatra. I just loved his style and how effortless everything he did looked

  1. What is the one theatrical character you’d love to play and why?

My absolute favourite musical is ‘Rent’ which is a very modern musical, and I would love to play Roger. The music is more rocky where my roots tend to lie and Roger goes on such an emotional journey I would love to explore that.

Christian Slingsby now tells us about himself and his acting experience:

white-christmas-dress-1-9293

 

  1. How long have you been involved in theatre and how did you get started?

I got started back at school in the 80’s but really got the bug when I was about 20.  I went along to my then local theatre and did my first show Romeo & Juliet where I was given the job of running the lighting board for the whole show.  Been involved with theatre one way or another ever since.

  1. What has been the show that you’ve most enjoyed being part of?

That’s a difficult question because they all have their special moments.  The show that will always be special to me as I had the most memorable moment within a show would be Return to the Forbidden Planet where I played Ariel the Robot.  My first ever standing ovation

  1. What, for you, makes a great performance?

Seeing and hearing that the Audience has enjoyed themselves.  Hopefully along the way we all have a great time and enjoy ourselves BUT it’s the audience that makes a great performance

  1. What do you do to prepare yourself for your performance and to get into character?

I always like to get to the theatre about 90 minutes before a performance starts.  I like to check my props and costumes are all there and in place ready and then I like to turn off to the outside world.  There’s then time to sit and relax with your fellow actors before the real routine starts like doing a vocal warm up, getting into makeup, opening costumes and just running through the show in my mind to prepare for the nights performance.

  1. What is your favourite part/song from this show?

There’s 2 I’m afraid.  SNOW and White Christmas because with so many of us on the stage and all being involved it feels like a big Christmas Family.  Cheesy I know 😀

  1. What is the one theatrical character you’d love to play and why?

Tom Collins from RENT.  I was lucky enough to see this show on Broadway and fell in love with the show.  It’s hard to describe how the show makes me feel with the whole emotional rollercoaster that takes place between the characters during the show but the story and the way it’s told with the music and lyrics just seems to hit a soft spot with me and it is by far THE ONE show that I would love to be a part of.  Saying that I do also have quite a few others on the list that I would one day like to be in.

You might like to take a look at the BOS Musical Theatre Group’s ‘Mannequin Challenge’ by clicking here

Thank you to Neil Watson Photography for use of his photographs in this blog post.

 

About BOS Musical Theatre Group:

BOS Musical Theatre Group is based in the town of Boston in Lincolnshire, England. Founded in 1964 (as Boston Operatic Society), we have gained an enviable reputation for the high quality musical productions which we stage twice yearly at Blackfriars Arts Centre, Spain Lane, Boston. All productions are entirely produced, cast and staged using local people, and we are always keen to meet anyone who would like to become involved with us, whether backstage or treading the boards.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s