The Viennese Strauss Christmas Gala at the Playhouse Theatre is always our go-to official start to Christmas. And what a glorious start it is. This year’s show had a beautifully revamped set positively alive and sparkling with so many twinkly lights Santa’s grotto couldn’t compete. Much Loved Productions headed by director, melodious baritone, and all round funster, Jeremy Peaker, packs the show with uplifting music from The British Philharmonic Concert Orchestra conducted by Anthony Kraus, wonderful singing from Alison Roddy, resident soprano, Nicholas Watts, tenor, and never forgetting the lively wit and talent of presenter Malcolm McKee, aided by his selection of colourful Christmas outfits.
The first half is choc full of all the Strauss polkas you know and love, a sprinkling of Christmas songs, plus a selection from Romberg’s musical The Dessert Song which I particularly enjoyed. A Strauss song called Gondolied we were reliably informed was the about the call of the gondoliers to alert oncoming traffic as it were around the canal corners, a fact which I’m hoping will turn up in my next musical pub quiz! The Champagne Trio is an excellent way to finish off before the interval and Alison Roddy’s tipsy and tottery lady was most amusing and a lesson to us all on the dangers of over imbibing at Christmas.
There’s plenty of opportunity to join in and test your own vocal capacity in the second half and the orchestra starts off the festivities with the Christmas overture, Christmas carols and Jeremy Peaker joining the list of everybody who has sung The Christmas Song but doing it better. Throughout Malcolm McKee had us in stitches with his readings from his large red book – the whisky soaked family recipe for Christmas cake where not only the raisons were sozzled but also the chef, the poor man trapped in the gentleman’s convenience with three nuns, two old ladies and a nurse (what could be worse!) and cheered by us ladies : what would happen if instead of three wise men appearing in the stable, three wise women came? All great fun and very enjoyable.
As always we loved the show and certainly don’t intend to miss it next year!