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Irving Berlin’s White Christmas
Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin
Book by David Ives and Paul Blake
Directed and Choreographed by Randy Skinner
The Fox Theatre
November 17, 2015

Cast of Irving Berlin's White Christmas Photo by Kevin White White Christmas National Tour

Cast of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas
Photo by Kevin White
White Christmas National Tour

Are you dreaming of a fun, colorful holiday musical that’s high on style and full of familiar, classic songs? Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, currently playing at the Fox as part of this year’s national tour, fits that bill. Based on a well-known holiday film with a new book and additional songs, it’s not the most substantial of shows, but with a strong cast and especially memorable dancing, it’s sure to entertain.

The plot here is slight and somewhat contrived, bearing a strong resemblance to that of an earlier film that also features Berlin songs and has been given a modern stage treatment, Holiday Inn, which was most recently staged at the Muny this past summer. This show also involves a song-and-dance team of two men and a New England inn with holiday performances. Here, the guys are Army buddies Bob Wallace (Sean Montgomery) and Phil Davis (Jeremy Benton), who performed for the troops in World War II and later became stage and TV stars. The story takes place in 1954, as the guys follow a pair of singing sisters, Betty (Kerry Conte) and Judy (Kelly Sheehan) to Vermont and an inn that happens to be owned by the guys’ former commanding officer, General Henry Waverly (Conrad John Schuck), who was apparently a great general but not the best innkeeper, as the bills have piled up and his manager, feisty former performer Martha (Pamela Myers) has had to hide them from him. Add a troupe of singers and dancers and their crew, the General’s precocious granddaughter (Elizabeth Crawford), and a somewhat thin plot involving a misunderstood telephone call and a denied attraction between Betty and Bob, along with lots and lots of singing, dancing and a boatload of Irving Berlin classics, and that’s basically the show.

The purpose of this show is to be a fun holiday entertainment, and it certainly is that. With colorful sets by Anna Louizos and adapted by Kenneth Foy, as well as bright, colorful 1950s costumes by Carrie Robbins, this show sets the scene well. Of course the classic title song is there, along with other hits like “Blue Skies”, “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep”, and “I’ve Got Your Love to Keep Me Warm”. There’s also director Randy Skinner’s energetic choreography and grand dance numbers like the showstopping “I Love a Piano”, danced by the excellent ensemble. There are some fun special effects as well, to add to the atmosphere especially at the end of the show.

The lead performers are strong, as well, led by the charming crooner Montgomery and magnetic dancer Benton. They’re well-matched by Conte, in the more serious role and Sheehan as the more bubbly, comic sister. There are also standout supporting performances from Schuck as the stubborn but goodhearted general, and Myers as the spunky, big-voiced Martha, with her “Let Me Sing and I’m Happy” number being a real highlight of the production. This number is given a fun reprise by young Crawford as Susan, as well. The whole cast performs well, with energy, big voices and strong dancing.

This isn’t a deep or intricately plotted show, but that’s not really the point of a show like this. It’s about the music, the dancing and the bright, vibrant set pieces. If it’s a fun holiday show you’re looking to take your family to see, then Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is an excellent option.

Cast of Irving Berlin's White Christmas Photo by Kevin White

Cast of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas
Photo by Kevin White

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is running at the Fox Theatre until November 22, 2015.

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