ONCE upon a time, dreaming of a White Christmas might have had a very different meaning for Darren Day.

Those days when the tabloid headlines blazed “Day left bankrupt by cocaine addiction” are now a browning memory and the Day you see in Irving Berlin’s winter musical at the West Yorkshire Playhouse is a fully fledged old-fashioned star turn, his singing voice as smooth as a ski’s blade, his stage demeanour elegant and charming. He has the relaxed Bing thing off to a T, while still making the Crosby role from the 1954 film his own.

The resurgent Essex star of musicals and Holby City, now 46, is joined by fellow West End performer Oliver Tompsett to play song-and-dance duo Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, opposite Emma Williams and Holly Dale Spencer as the Haynes sisters in a cast of 17, assembled by North Yorkshire director Nikolai Foster.

Foster, soon to take up the artistic director’s reins at the Leicester Curve, is looking to repeat the 2011 success of his innovative account of Annie! at the Playhouse with fresh orchestration for the Broadway musical in the “first major new UK production” of White Christmas. In other words, here is where it differs from the West End Christmas show starring Aled Jones and Tom Chambers at the Dominion Theatre.

Tony Award-nominated orchestrator Jason Carr has infused Berlin’s score with sleek, jazz-inspired arrangements and a seven-piece band on stage, while Foster has reunited with Annie’s choreographer Nick Winston, who contributes the show’s best feature. Designer Matthew Wright’s costume designs are a joy too, but his set designs, save for the glittering piano walkway and snowy “big reveal” at the finale, look to be playing second fiddle to the production’s other demands.

Foster, whose direction is as skilled, smart and fluent as ever, starts the show with a bang. The year is 1944, and Day’s dapper Bob and Tompsett’s ladies’ man Davis are entertaining the troops, under the command of Andrew Jarvis’s stern but fair General Henry Waverley.

White Christmas, that ubiquitous song, comes early, accompanied by a music box, before the early bang rather fizzles out in the over-long first half. Phil and Judy hit it off but the show’s progress is rather more like Betty and Bob’s somewhat spluttering relationship as they all head to Vermont’s ski slopes, only to find a heatwave and the old General on his uppers running the Holiday Inn with no business acumen.

Melanie La Barrie’s feisty, frank and funny concierge, Martha, perks up proceedings but more than the snow is absent from the opening 85 minutes. Thankfully, everyone raises their game post-interval to match Day and La Barrie as the show becomes as sparky as Betty and Bob when the star turns rally round to save the inn from going bust.

The cast goes for broke; Jarvis excels, Sion Tudor Owen’s eccentric stage hand Ezekiel steals scenes; the arch wit bites like a fish; the romance rises; the snow falls and White Christmas is Darren’s day.

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, until January 24 2015. Box office: 0113 213 7700 or wyp.org.uk