Another Night Before Christmas at the Bridge House Theatre
It’s the most wonderful time of the year – again – and new musical Another Night Before Christmas is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
Telling the story of an overworked 30-something social worker on Christmas Eve who’s “burgled” by a man with a beard and a sack slung over his shoulder (…you get the idea), Another Night Before Christmas makes a real effort to get its audience all believing in the magic of Christmas with toe-tapping original music and a great script.
For a small production tucked away above a pub, the acting talent isn’t compromised. Olivier award-winning George Maguire fizzes on stage as the cheeky, chappy Santa figure, alongside the bewildered Rachael Wooding as eternal Christmas pessimist Carole Elliott. Extra characters are cleverly added in via the troublesome voice recognition alarm system, with voiceovers from West End favourites Rachel Tucker (Wicked) and Oliver Tompsett (Mamma Mia).
The songs are paced well throughout the production, and Maguire and Wooding’s vocals blend beautifully on first duet Poles Apart. A varied mix of genres in the 13-strong list of musical numbers contrasts well with the rollercoaster narrative – when emotions reach peak sentimentality with One More Beautiful Christmas, things are quickly brought back down from festive overload with Maguire’s wild Russell Brand-esque Santa teasing Carole once more.
The flat in the first part is transformed in the second act into a winter wonderland, complete with ceiling-to-floor lights and Christmas tree, and made even cosier in its intimate setting being in this pub in south-east London.
What really shines is the bickering relationship between Maguire and Wooding, the latter playing the non-believing Carole with the perfect degree of Scroogey cynicism. It’s never something that brings the mood down, however, and is cranked up to its full potential during the first time the audience see the two truly enjoying each others’ company in the raucous Kill Der Bingle.
There are times when the show feels a bit cheesy, but it’s always quickly turned around with the script’s so-bad-they’re-good jokes. There are some genuine laugh-out-loud moments, though, executed with perfect comic timing from both actors.
On paper, this production looks like just another Christmas musical with a familiar plot. But its extra magic lies in the memorable original songs and sparkling rapport between the two performers, which makes Another Night Before Christmas a joyous way to spend two hours – and fully deserving of a packed run right up until Christmas.
Another Night Before Christmas is at the Bridge House Theatre from 28th November until 23rd December 2016, for further information or to book visit here.