Having toured across the United States and Canada throughout December, A Royal Christmas wraps up with a stop in South Florida this weekend. The show features a slew of dance troupes, choirs, and orchestras to provide all the requisite bluster and bombast of a good Christmas show. Most of these ensembles come from England, hence the title; the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, the Westminster Concert Choir, the Westminster Bell Choir, and principal and solo dancers from London's Royal Ballet all have parts in the show. A Canadian contribution, Winnipeg's Royal Ballet, plus Russia's Bolshoi Ballet and Ukraine's Kyiv Ballet and Shumka Dancers round out the groups.
Of course, this means more than just a few carols. Otherwise, all those dancers would have nothing to do. The night also includes scenes from The Nutcracker as well as some holiday tales and popular songs.
All those musicians and choirs make for impressive renditions of holiday tunes, but they're really there to back the three stars of the show. First among these is 16-year-old Charlotte Church, whose voice continues to bewilder anyone who says talent is learned, not inborn. Although barely old enough to drive, Church has a voice like an opera star and boasts 10 million albums sold worldwide.
Sharing the center stage with Church are Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews. Or more properly, Dame Julie Andrews. As she did for Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger, Queen Elizabeth II tapped Andrews for knighthood in recognition of her accomplishments. One of those deeds -- the one that binds Andrews and Plummer together -- is The Sound of Music. The 1965 movie featured Plummer in the male lead as Captain Von Trapp and Andrews in the female lead as Maria. This must be a bittersweet reality for Plummer, who reportedly referred to The Sound of Music derisively as the Sound of Mucus. Plummer got his start doing Shakespeare, so one can understand how he considered an insufferably sentimental musical to be a bit on the light side. In spite of his personal opinions, the event apparently includes a few Sound of Music numbers among all the holiday songs. Sometimes, you just have to grin and bear it.
Of course, Andrews has far less a problem with singing show tunes. Unlike Plummer, Andrews made her career off musicals. The Sound of Music was only the beginning. Let's not forget Victor/Victoria or Mary Poppins, not to mention several less memorable roles. (Anyone remember Thoroughly Modern Millie? Didn't think so.) While Andrews has generally left musicals behind, appearing most recently in 2001's Princess Diaries, and Plummer abandoned that format decades ago, this show is unapologetically nostalgic. And after all, isn't that part of the holidays?