When I know I’m going to review something I prefer to see as little as I can in advance. I’ll have a look at the press release, I might read the website blurb, but I really want my reactions to be as here-and-now as possible with few preconceptions. So, I really hadn’t noticed the one tweet about A Song for Christmas that I’ve now found with the accurate description of “children’s show”. This 30-something bloke was not prepared. I suppose “connect with all the family” and “for audiences of all ages” was a clue, but not explicit enough, in my opinion, for a show that is absolutely, without any doubt, something for children.
But I quickly realised what was happening and tried my best to watch through young eyes, and I reckon twenty-or-so years ago I would have enjoyed it. A Song For Christmas is, essentially, a collection of Christmassy songs that are tied together with a loose story about a couple of children (played by Teddy Hinde and Sydnie Hocknell) and their Dad (Richard Aaron) dealing with the usual excitement that comes from being young on Christmas Eve. The story was simple, just enough to take us from song to song, and was quite sweet with some lovely moments of family tenderness.
The venue is well suited for this sort of close-up and fun performance, with only room for an intimate audience of thirty-or-so, but the cast had their fair share of things to battle with here. The POD is only a few steps back from the main piazza of Covent Garden, and is a temporary structure (don’t worry, parents, there’s a bar). The street performers behind and the crowds they attracted could, unfortunately, be heard loud and clear from inside the venue which made parts of the performance difficult to make out.
The songs are what the show is really about though (as you might guess from the name). The performance of all of them was great, and I could watch Teddy Hinde’s Marley in particular dance and sing all night long. But I wonder if some more thought could have been given to ssmall details: I didn’t know some of the songs, and maybe children wouldn’t either, and I wonder if the full versions were needed for every song, or if an abridged version could have kept the overall flow a bit better. As well, in the absence of a live accompanist, I thought the backing tracks felt bare with only a piano, even if Musical Director Lawrence (or Laurence – the program has both!) Stennard did a great job with them. However, it was a nice selection with a mix of sweetness and excitement; some little festive treats.
Credit goes to the performers for giving their all, complete with some over-the-top festive enthusiasm which will win round young children. If you can bear the crowds that are nearby, this show is worth a look in if you’re taking your little ones into Central London.
Written by: Alice Croft
Directed by: Alice Croft
Musical Direction by: Lawrence Stennard
Produced by: Gartland Productions
A Song For Christmas is at The POD, Iris Theatre, Covent Garden until 19 December 2021. Further information and booking via the below link.