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Sunday 17 December 2017

Aled Jones is all white

If is one song that represents the warmth and nostalgia of Christmas it must be Irving Berlin's 'White Christmas'. Bing Crosby made it the best-selling single of all time and starred with Danny Kaye in the 1954 classic movie of the same name.

Likewise, the teenage choirboy Aled Jones's rendition of 'Walking In The Air' (the theme to the cartoon, The Snowman) has become a modern classic and staple of festive soundtracks in department stores everywhere.

The boy soprano is now a man with a deep, rich voice and he is set to take to the stage in Dublin's Grand Canal Theatre next month in a new production of White Christmas.

Jones will be focusing on the songs although he has to take part in some dance routines. "I ache in every single joint at the moment," he said.

"I do like dancing. I did the dreaded Strictly [Come Dancing] and hid myself behind a Russian for 10 weeks before I got found out.

"My character Bob Wallace in White Christmas is very much the song part of the show -- so I only dance two or three numbers."

As someone who is responsible for one of the best-loved Christmas songs, how does Jones feel about 'Walking In The Air' now?

"I was lucky to be involved with a cartoon that was loved by so many people and every Christmas The Snowman would rear its head and I'd have work again. When I was in college, my friends would put it on and I'd be cringing but I'd be mad if I wasn't thankful now.

"As a kid I loved Christmas and being a father now, Christmas takes on a magical quality. I'm a massive fan of hymns and carols. Hundreds of years on we're all still singing them."

Unlike many child stars, Jones has managed to continue his singing career into adulthood as well as having a full-time career as a TV and radio broadcaster. Does he have to do any unusual exercises to keep his vocal chords in tip-top shape?

"I've been singing enough since I was a child that I'm lucky to have a very strong vocal muscle so no, none of that namby-pamby stuff!"

The show is produced by Michael Rose, who has been trying to bring the production to the stage for 20 years.

"I remember watching the film each year at Christmas as a kid and when I went into the industry I thought what a wonderful idea for a stage musical. I made inquiries 20 years ago and the rights were all tied up with Rodgers and Hammerstein and Irving Berlin."

When he got a tip-off seven years ago that an American producer was doing a new stage production of White Christmas he jumped on a plane to LA. "I had a breakfast meeting with the rights holders and got back on the plane having signed the rights."

Rose describes it as a "massive old-fashioned Broadway musical" but it is also an old-fashioned love story and this, says Rose, is where its appeal to modern theatre-goers lies.

"It's not actually about Christmas. It just happens to be set at Christmas. It's a story about friendship, comradeship and doing good by others, which is sadly lacking around the world.

"During the summer I was working on another script, the first draft for Chariots of Fire [his next musical project]. It was a couple of days after the riots which took place all around the UK and what struck me was it was about a bygone era where those qualities that we value so much as human beings -- morals, loyalty, dependability, honesty -- and sense of community were very much in existence.

"It struck me so much because we need to be reminded of that. White Christmas does the same thing. That's its appeal today.

"It's set in the Second World War and they say 10 years from now we'll get together and maybe the world will be a better place. It's kind of frightening that things haven't changed and there's a real identification."

White Christmas runs at the Grand Canal Theatre, Dublin from December 1-17. Tickets from www.grandcanaltheatre.ie or 0818 719 377

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