REVIEW: Getting in the festive mood a little early with HAODS

White Christmas, Horsham Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, The Capitol, Horsham, November 25

From left: Alicia Marson as Betty Haynes and  Rachel Farrant as her sister Judy
From left: Alicia Marson as Betty Haynes and Rachel Farrant as her sister Judy

It’s almost that time of year again and while the end of November seems a little early for a Christmas show, it’s important that HAODS avoids clashing with the annual panto.

So, we have White Christmas, the popular musical about two entertainers, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, who put on a festive show to help out their old army general, Tom Waverly, whose ski lodge is struggling. During rehearsals, they fall in love with two aspiring singers, Judy and Betty Haynes.

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As with every HAODS musical the singing here is of very high quality throughout. Kevin Summers (Bob Wallace) is especially good at crooning classics like ‘Count Your Blessings’, evoking memories of Bing Crosby without simply mimicking the man’s style.

Kevin Summers (as Bob Wallace) and the cast perform Blue Skies

The American accents are pulled off beautifully too and are performed with all the cheeriness you’d expect from a 1950s movie. Martin Bracewell (as Phil Davis), Rachel Farrant (as Judy Haynes) and Chris Dale (as Ralph Sheldrake) are all on top form and don’t get tongue-tied once.

Meanwhile, Tess Kennedy (as Martha) belts out her numbers and delivers each line in a wonderfully sassy way.

Ellie Attfield also gives a winning performance as Susan Waverly, a sparky youngster who makes up for any childish naivety with radiant self-confidence.

While undeniably fun, some feel that White Christmas is a rather corny and simplistic piece of entertainment. And, to be fair, some of the comedy is pretty undemanding.

Martin Bracewell as Phil Davis dances with Rachel Farrant

Tim Shepherd is very funny as dimwitted Ezekiel but, after his gag has been made once, you know what he’s going to say every time you see him afterwards. Something similar happens with the excessively flirty Rita and Rhoda (played by Daisy O’Sullivan and Jackie Shepherd). They get some healthy laughs, of course, but it’s basically the same joke again and again.

I still like these moments though and this HAODS show actually does provide nuance and complexity in places. Alicia Marson, for example, doesn’t play Betty Haynes as some singing airhead, but shows how her character’s hopes and dreams clash with her cautious and somewhat suspicious nature.

Similarly, Howard Collis manages to strike a nice balance between grumpiness and warmth as General Waverly, which makes him much more human and believable.

However, it’s not just the singing and acting that brings White Christmas to life. The HAODS team has done a fine job with the choreography, costumes and sets, capturing the colourful, idealised world that the characters inhabit.

The cast perform White Christmas

And, as usual, the live orchestra is fantastic at interpreting the score, thoroughly deserving its round-of-applause at the end.

To find out more about HAODS visit

Click here to read about a couple’s fairytale proposal on The Capitol stage.

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Tess Kennedy as Martha

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