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A Viennese Strauss Christmas Gala The Playhouse Theatre Weston Review



 
 
 
 
Much Loved Productions is celebrating its 25th anniversary after a glorious quarter century bringing light opera, the Proms and various Christmas shows to us the appreciative public. We haven’t quite been with them for the whole 25 years but going to the Viennese Strauss Christmas Gala has become a tradition for the past few; it’s the show that puts you right in the festive spirit and you enjoy it so much that you buy a ticket for next year on the way out!

The format is always comfortingly the same, the stage decked with tinsel, beautifully dressed Christmas trees, piles of presents, giant sized snowmen and plenty of twinkling lights the very stuff of Christmas – and that’s before we get to writer and presenter Malcolm McKee’s colourful range of Christmas jumpers, suits and ties. Anthony Kraus conducts the British Philharmonic Concert Orchestra in fine style and we’re off, beginning with the rousing Tritsch Tratsch Polka, a Strauss favourite to start the toes tapping.

We loved soloists Alison Roddy and Andrew Forbes Lane in the romantic Jogging in a One Horse Gig from the Merry Widow and also baritone Tom McVeigh singing Maxim’s. These three are a rare treat singing together or solo; the first half closed with Champagne Trio from Die Fledermaus and I do believe the front row may have been sprinkled with some!

Throughout the proceedings Malcolm McKee entertains with stories from his ‘Red Book’ which are very amusing, made more so by his appropriate outfits for each story. Malcolm has many strings to his bow in that he is a composer of theatre musical scores, a radio actor (he plays Graham Ryder in The Archers) and a script writer too but his main claim to fame is that nobody wears a Christmas jumper like him!

Of course the audience are encouraged to participate and we were in full voice for all our favourites and, no, it appears we don’t know the second verse of ‘Deck the Halls’ but luckily Anthony Kraus does! The second half was packed with cheer in the shape of Winter Wonderland, Rudolph, White Christmas and finished with a terrific rendition of Jingle Bells with all in Christmas costume.

This show is such fun even Scrooge would crack his face in a smile and together with the first class orchestra, and wonderfully talented singers it makes for the perfect pre-Christmas night out.

Jacquie Vowles


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