REVIEWSREVIEWS BYTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas The Musical

Based on the 1954 Paramount Picture by Norman Krasna,

Norman Panama and Melvin Frankwhitechristmas the musical national tour 2010

Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin

Book by David Ives & Paul Blake

Directed by Norb Joerder

Musical Director John Visser

Choreographer Rand Skinner

Produced by Broadway in Chicago

At the Bank of America Theatre

Much more than merely a Christmas show – White Christmas is a  new Broadway musical featuring tunes from Irving Berlin.

I got my Christmas present early from Broadway in Chicago with their terrific, tuneful and utterly delightful Irving Berlin backstage musical that brought me back to the 50’s style Broadway musicals.

irving berlin's white christmas

White Christmas is a new musical, now on a national tour, filled with the wonderful Berlin songbook. It starts and ends with Christmas cheers with tunes like “Happy Holidays,” “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” and the classic “White Christmas.” But in between, we experience a fully rendered new Broadway musical comedy.

irving berlin's white christmas

The storyline follows two  song and dance men (Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in the film) here Bob (John Scherer) and Phil (Denis Lambert) from their days in World War II to the early 50’s as they appear on the Ed Sullivan Show doing “Let Yourself G0.” This backstage musical  finds Phil, ever the skirt-chaser trying to set up his partner Bob with a soul mate.  They sing “Love and the Weather.”  Phil takes Bob to see a sister night club act featuring Betty (Amy Bodnar0 and Judy (Shannon M. O’Brien)–the sing and dance to, what else(?) “Sisters.” Phil and Judy instantly connect while Bob and Betty quickly become adversaries.

irving berlin's white christmas

The four end up in Vermont as Bob and Phil decide to help their old commanding General (Eric Devine) save his struggling winter resort by mounting a musical revue.  Martha (Ruth Williamson), the innkeeper’s receptionist and musical comedy want-to-be, ever the gossip, misinterprets a message from Bob’s producer. This causes Betty to hate Bob after having her mind changed with the cute “Count Your Blessings Instead Of Sheep.” The cast rehearses “Blue Skies” and the wonderful show-stopper “I Love A Piano” (my favorite tune from this show).

irving berlin's white christmas

The show show utilizes Berlin songs to show emotions and anger with “Falling  Out of Love,” “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me” and “How Deep is the Ocean?” Eventually, all problems are resolved and all is copacetic. Everyone enjoys a “White Christmas.” We all have been thrilled with many familiar Irving Berlin numbers nimbly choreographed by Rand Skinner and danced marvelously by his fleet-footed dancers. While some of the singing was a tad shaky, the principles nailed their characters most pleasantly. The real star here is the  Irving Berlin songbook. Seeing thrilling  jazz, tap and swing tunes and strong ballads begs for more new musicals based on the great composers. Take your family to experience an old fashion slick, well-danced Broadway musical devoid of gimmick but full of heart and toe-tapping songs.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

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Here is an interview with the creative team from White Christmas:

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