REVIEW: Christmas Concerts at Chichester Festival Theatre

Christmas Concerts at Chichester Festival Theatre
Christmas Concerts at Chichester Festival Theatre
Ollie Austin and Hanah Miller of Moulettes

Enter Moulettes’ world – it’s a musical force of nature

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Christmas comes around far too early.

For me, it doesn’t begin when Debenhams dusts off its Christmas tree while I am in shorts and shades, nor is it heralded by the mid-October avalanche of adverts.

It starts with later traditions like putting up the tree – and I think I have added another to my list.

A newbie to the CFT’s Christmas carol concerts, I expected two hours of sombre singing and dusty hymns.

I could not have been more wrong. Rousing singalongs of O Come, All Ye Faithful met jazz solos from the Portsmouth Royal Marines Band’s brass players; the angelic voices of the boys and gents of the Chichester Cathedral Choir then slimmed down to an all-adult barbershop sextet, singing Latin hymns in one breath and White Christmas in another.

Choirmaster Charles Harrison engaged in some playful banter with band conductor, Captain Andy Gregory, by telling Christmas jokes. But it was ‘What does Christmas dinner look like after Brexit? No Brussels’, which got the inevitable lion’s roar from the Festival Theatre masses.

While I struggled to match Mariah, it was good fun getting involved with the singing. But my favourite moment was hearing festive tunes played in a minor key, a unexpectedly funny blend of A Nightmare Before Christmas and Slavic folk music.

The transitions needed smoothing out – we were literally left in the dark at the start of the singalong finale – but I put it down to a first night faux pas.

Perhaps my initial skepticism stemmed from turning up alone and wrapped up like Scrooge thanks to a stinking cold. But like the famous miser (albeit poorer) I left the theatre a changed man, feeling I had shared a festive evening with friends.

And I hope to share the experience with my nearest and dearest next year.

Until Saturday.