I’m one of those people who doesn’t believe in acknowledging the existence of Christmas until after Thanksgiving.
But then I don’t make up the schedule for the Fox Theatre, so let’s talk about “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.” The show runs through Sunday and it is sure to get you in the holiday spirit — even if it is a couple of weeks too soon.
Based on the classic 1954 film which I haven’t seen (I tend to avoid Christmas movies unless they have Chevy Chase and Randy Quaid in them), “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” was adapted for the stage in 2004 with the e libretto is by David Ives and Paul Blake. Music and lyrics, of course, by the great Irving Berlin.
The tale begins with song-and-dance duo Bob Wallace (Sean Montgomery) and Phil Davis (Jeremy Benton) performing for the troops on Christmas Eve, 1944. They are interrupted by their gruff but lovable commander — General Waverly (Conrad John Schuck) — who announces he’s being shipped stateside before wishing all his boys well.
It’s now 10 years later and Bob and Phil are playing “The Ed Sullivan Show” and looking for new talent to join their act. They are pointed in the direction of a sister act — Betty and Judy Haynes (Kerry Conte and Kelly Sheehan) — who prove to be promising both as entertainers and love interests.
The girls have a gig at an inn in Pine Tree, Vermont, and the boys tag along. It turns out the Inn is owned by the general, who is unaware that it is losing money because the woman running the place (Pamela Myers) doesn’t want to upset him.
Bob and Phil decide to put on a show and invite all their old army buddies to come out and raise the money to keep the general’s inn afloat. Of course, the show won’t go on without a few misunderstandings and setbacks along the way.
I’ll be honest. going into this I wasn’t really interested in seeing “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.” Old-fashioned, feel-good holiday cheer is just not my thing — especially in mid-November. But I must admit, this is a really good show.
The multiple set changes were well crafted, the costumes were bright and colorful, the musicians were fine and the songs were — well — classics. In addition to familiar holiday songs “Happy Holiday” and the title tune, the show features Berlin classics “Blue Skies,” “Snow,” “How Deep Is The Ocean” and “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm,” among others.
But it was the on-stage talent that really made the show sing (and dance). The four leads are all fine singers while Benton and Sheehan are tremendous dancers. As if the songs weren’t strong enough on their own, the show features several amazing dance numbers.
Don’t be a Grinch. Check out “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” while you have the chance. Given the state of the world these days, a little early holiday cheer can only be a good thing.
“Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” runs through Sunday at the Fox Theatre. http://www.fabulousfox.com/