If you’re after Christmas cheer without the sentimentality (or wince-inducing panto puns) you’ll be captivated by this seasonal gem of a musical. It’s the handiwork of newcomers Jim Barne and Kit Buchan, who’ve taken the trite theme of boy-meets-girl in New York and turned it into something self-referential, witty, and gorgeously, undeniably festive.
After landing an Olivier Award for playing a warped teenager in Dear Evan Hansen, Sam Tutty does a stellar job of showcasing his sweeter and (slightly) more grown-up side as bumbling English country boy Dougal. He’s in New York for his estranged Dad’s wedding, and has big dreams of a family reunion with all the trimmings: skyscrapers, hotdogs, and ice skating, just like in the movies. But when sister-of-the-bride Robin is sent to pick this hopelessly naive 25-year-old from the airport, she can’t resist bursting his bubble. Hamilton alumni Dujonna Gift is compellingly spiky as this disillusioned barista, gradually unfurling the pain behind her knife-sharp exterior.
In the hands of director and choreographer Tim Jackson, the jokes land like a blizzard of falling snow. Comedy number “Under the Mistletoe” is especially funny, with Tutty and Gift lurching into mock-suave crooning (him) and a grotesque girlish screech (her) as they send up the cringey misogyny of mid-century Christmas songs.
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