Review: “Home for Christmas” by Hannah Waddingham – an irresistible spectacle even for the Grinch.
I am not sure if I was prepared for Hannah Waddingham’s holiday extravaganza “Home for Christmas,” featuring the cast of Ted Lasso singing and dancing in festive costumes. Apple has provided a spectacle of showbiz glitz and glamour with Christmas trees and a large band.
The show is a traditional, variety-style performance, recorded at the Coliseum in London, which Waddingham considers her home. She shares that her mother, who used to be a mezzo at the Coliseum, is in the audience and she herself spent a lot of time in one of the boxes during her childhood. This is just one of the many moments that bring tears to her eyes. Waddingham wears a series of stunning dresses as she interacts with the audience, becomes emotional, sings solo and duets with other performers such as Hamilton’s Leslie Odom Jr, Sam Ryder, and actor Luke Evans. She also introduces the London Gay Men’s Chorus and the Fabulous Lounge Swingers, all while gracefully moving and dancing on stage.
It is remarkable that Waddingham was able to make time to shoot the film, as she is arguably the most industrious woman in the business. She successfully hosted Liverpool’s Eurovision (with great skill, it must be noted) and more recently, the Earthshot Prize. Throughout her career, she has been a part of numerous musical productions and has invited some of her colleagues from her time on the West End, Broadway, Game of Thrones, and Ted Lasso to show their support and add some comedic moments to the audience.
The show kicks off with a dazzling display of AFC Richmond players in sparkly tuxedos, dancing and presenting gifts to Waddingham backstage. She then proceeds to perform a series of Christmas numbers on her way to the auditorium. You may wonder if that’s Jamie Tartt offering her a glass of champagne. Indeed it is, played by actor Phil Dunster, who is disorientingly using his own accent instead of his character’s Mancunian dialect. “I adore you endlessly,” Waddingham proclaims as he finishes his grand performance. Similarly, Nick Mohammed, known to Ted Lasso fans as the scheming Nate, takes on a Nate-esque role, lingering around for a bit too long (this will make more sense after you’ve watched it), but still being the talented actor and comedian that he is.
This is a product of Apple, so it’s not surprising that it heavily features Lasso. The actors from the show, known as “my footballing boys,” dedicate extra time to the production, while others find creative ways to make appearances without physically being there. It’s always exciting to see who will make a surprise appearance. I won’t reveal who is lurking backstage, but it’s definitely worth sticking around until the end to see who makes a grand entrance.
The entire production is under an hour in duration, entering and exiting quickly before overstaying its welcome. It has a bit more of a theatrical feel compared to other holiday specials, such as Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special on Apple in 2020. However, it is worth noting that Waddingham does not fly through the night sky on her own sleigh. It may seem early for a Christmas special, but with many people already having their trees up, it’s understandable to want some pre-seasonal cheer. Perhaps it would be better suited as a top contender on traditional television Christmas schedules. When is the appropriate time to watch something like this? Do you press play as soon as it is released and indulge in some Irish cream? Or do you wait until the actual holiday? For those who like to go against the norm, perhaps they will save it for the January sales.
The atmosphere is light and festive, filled with glitz and glamour. The humor is gentle and pleasant, eliciting hearty laughter from all. The musical numbers are met with applause, and by the end, you can’t help but join in. Waddingham’s infectious positivity is sure to put you in a good mood. It may not make you crave a cheese board, but it will certainly leave you feeling uplifted.
I have awarded this product three stars because a rating is required, but it cannot be accurately evaluated. It falls outside of the standard rating system. If you are looking for a way to experience the theater without leaving your home or spending a lot of money, this is a suitable alternative. Additionally, if you enjoy watching the cast of Ted Lasso portray characters from Jersey Boys during the holiday season, this product serves that purpose well. Even the Grinch would have a hard time criticizing such a spectacle.