Celebrate the Holidays with a ‘White Christmas’

Cast of White Christmas at Theatre at the Center (Michael Brosilow photo)
Cast of White Christmas at Theatre at the Center (Michael Brosilow photo)

3 stars

Who doesn’t love a rousing tap number? If you do, then “White Christmas,” the holiday offering from Munster’s Theatre at the Center, is the holiday song-and-dance show for you.

The musical is the stage adaptation of my mom’s favorite Christmas movie starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen and Dean Jagger. Irving Berlin’s White Christmas was turned into a stage show in 2000.

Munster’s version stars Matt Edmonds as Bob, Justin Brill as Phil, Casiena Raether as Judy, Erica Stephan as Betty and Neil Friedman as General Waverly.

It follows the story of Bob and Phil, singers who served under “The Old Man” in World War II before gaining fame and fortune as entertainers. Looking for romance, they follow sisters Judy and Betty to Vermont where the women are slated to perform on Christmas Eve.

When Bob and Phil learn that the inn is owned by the General who is facing financial ruin because there’s no snow, they rally the old troops to save him.

This is the third show I’ve seen at Theatre at the Center and it’s the third time the show featured someone in the role of comic relief.

This time, it comes in the form of Glory Kissel as Martha. She is the Girl Friday Inn manager and faithful supporter of the General. She also is the former Martha the Megaphone Watson, and when she belts out a song, everyone stops to listen.

Martha, the “president of the Northeast Chapter of Busybodies Anonymous,” also gets to deliver some of the funniest lines in the show including the moment she explains why people think she and the General are married: “We fight all the time and we never have sex.”

Cast of White Christmas at Theatre at the Center (Michael Brosilow photo)
Cast of White Christmas at Theatre at the Center (Michael Brosilow photo)

Rounding out the talented cast of actors, singers and dancers are Raegan Smedley as the General’s granddaughter, Susan; Denzel Tsopnang as Sheldrake, Bob and Phil’s Army buddy who now works for the Ed Sullivan Show.

Also there are Ann Delaney as Rita and Allyson Graves as Rhoda, the women who flirt shamelessly with Phil; John Gurdian as Ezekiel and Andrew MacNaughton as Mike.

Maggie Malaney, Matthew Huston, Lance Spencer, Victoria Newhuis and Matthew Weidenbener are also part of the ensemble.

The book is by David Ives and Paul Blake, with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. The score features classic songs like “Blue Skies,” “I Love A Piano,” “How Deep is the Ocean,” “Sisters” and, of course, the most classic of them all, “White Christmas.”

Linda Fortunato is the director and choreographer and William Underwood is the music director.

Directed and choreogrpahed by Linda Fortunato with music direction by  William Underwood, the creative team includes scenic designer Jack Magaw, prop designer Melissa Geel and lighting designer Denise Karczewski. They created a stage that is simple, elegant and moves easily among time periods and places. The stage manager is Jessica Banaszak.

Costume designer Brenda Winstead and wig designer Kevin Barthel create a believable 1950s time period.

DETAILS: “White Christmas” is playing at The Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, IN, through Dec. 22. Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes, with one intermission. For tickets and other information call (219) 836-3255 or visit Theatre at the Center.

Cindy Richards

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

 

 

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