Wednesday evening saw the opening night performance of STUDIO32’s winter production “White Christmas”, and what a performance this talented company produced. From the moment the curtain went up the audience was treated to a spectacular show. The first scene opened in 1944 on the western front before moving forwards ten years to 1954 when the lead characters have become famous entertainers.
Luke Ringrose, playing Captain Bob Wallace, put in a commanding performance in his first lead role as the straight man of the entertainment duo. Starring alongside him in the joint lead as Private Phil Davies was Nick Morgan, an accomplished actor and dancer who played the comic role with excellent timing. Starring opposite them in the female lead roles was newcomer Suzy Bradley as Judy Haynes, and experienced actress Ann Bell playing her sister Betty Haynes. As the show progressed we saw how two romances developed, between Bob and Betty and Phil and Judy.
All four actors worked well together, bringing out the different aspects of their characters, and treating the audience to some delightful moments. Comic scenes were handled skilfully, while romantic and sad scenes had just the right amount of tenderness and emotion.
During the opening scene we were introduced to supporting characters General Waverley, played with remarkable authority by Don Wilkinson. Moving on to 1954 we find the General running an inn and struggling to come to terms with being out of uniform.
Playing opposite him we were introduced to the robust character of Martha, played by Bev McEwan. Bev is an experienced character actress and this showed in her forceful performance as the over-the-top ex-singer who manages the inn. Her solo number “Let Me Sing And I’m Happy” was put over with amazing power and control.
As the show progressed we were treated to some very entertaining song and dance numbers from the leading four actors. The show contained some of Irving Berlin’s best known numbers, including “Sisters”, “Blue Skies”, and of course the title number “White Christmas”. Company numbers were very well staged with fine singing and dancing throughout the show and great sound and lighting. The level of energy from the performers was very apparent, and it was a delight to see the whole cast working so well together.
Excellent supporting roles were played by John Palmer (Corporal Sheldrake), Alice Wakeford (Susan), Vicky Holden (Rita), and Julie Cartwright (Rhoda), Dianne Oliver (Tessie / secretary) and Sue Hurley (Jemima). The camp stage manager Mike was played with hilarious results by Mervyn Williams, and a special mention must be made for Keith Longshaw playing the role of Ezekiel, whose one-liners had the audience laughing in the aisles.
Director/choreographer Susan Zillah Wilson has delivered another STUDIO32 hit, setting very high professional standards and delivering a thoroughly entertaining show. Chairman Philip Wilson commented: “It’s wonderful to be able to deliver this level of entertainment to audiences whilst raising much needed money for local charities. This show has again raised over 3,500 euros and I’m very proud of everyone who has worked so hard to achieve what we have with this show.”
Audiences were left with a festive smile on their faces as they were encouraged to join in with the last number “White Christmas”. We look forward to seeing the company’s summer production “Chicago” in May/June next year. Tickets are already on pre-order and early booking is recommended. For information on STUDIO32 and their shows visit their website www.studiothirtytwo.org