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Irving Berlin's White Christmas

a Musical Comedy
by Songs - Irving Berlin, Book - David Ives and Paul Blake

COMPANY : Atlanta Lyric Theatre
VENUE : Earl Smith Strand Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 4406

SHOWING : December 07, 2012 - December 23, 2012



Don’t worry about the weather forecast — it’s going to be a “White Christmas” at Atlanta Lyric Theatre! Based on the beloved Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye film, this merry musical tells the tale of two famous song-and-dance men who stage a show in a scenic, snow-topped Vermont inn — and end up finding love with two singing sisters under the mistletoe. With laughter, crazy plot turns, Broadway-size production numbers, and the unforgettable music and lyrics of the legendary Irving Berlin, “White Christmas” is a brightly wrapped holiday gift. And, yes, the forecast calls for snow at The Strand in December!

Stage & Music Director Brandt Blocker
Ensemble Craig Baker
Betty Haynes Mary Nye Bennett
Ensemble Ian Blanco
Dance Captain/Ensemble Priscilla Curtis
Scooter Jono Davis
Mr. Snoring Man/Ezekiel Foster George Deavours
Phil Davis Logan Denninghoff
Jimmy/Train Conductor/Ensemble Fenner Eaddy
Ensemble Natalie Rhae Goodwin
General Henry Waverly Steven J Hornibrook
Judy Haynes Anna Kimmell
Martha Watson Marsha Lanzo
Bob Wallace Dustin Lewis
Tessie/Ensemble Jessica Pack Olson
Ensemble J. Koby Parker
Rhoda/Ensemble Becca Potter
Mrs. Snoring Man/Rita/Ensemble Kelly Schmidt
Susan Waverly Mary Stewart Sullivan
Mike Nulty/Ensemble Austin Tijerina
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Irving Berlin's Tuneful Holiday Treat
by playgoer
Sunday, December 23, 2012
I saw "White Christmas" a couple of years back at the Fox. It was a bit glitzier than Atlanta Lyric Theatre's production, but otherwise had nothing on it. Atlanta Lyric Theatre's "White Christmas" is just as entertaining, and just as professional.

Of the four principals, the men (Dustin Lewis and Logan Denninghoff) have the more pleasing voices and a surplus of energy. The women's voices are great too, and they bear some physical resemblance to the movie's Vera-Ellen (Anna Kimmell, as Judy Haynes) and Rosemary Clooney (Mary Nye Bennett, as Betty Haynes). The plot and song list also resemble the movie, without slavishly copying them.

One of the biggest changes from the movie is the beefing up (and renaming) of the role of the General's right-hand gal, here Martha Watson, a former Broadway performer. Marsha Lanzo plays the role with Broadway broadness, good comic timing, and a terrific set of pipes. The child role of Susan Waverly, here played by Mary Stewart Sullivan, emulates "Megaphone Martha," but can't hold a candle to her in this production.

The ensemble fills in a number of minor roles and gets to show off their dancing (and singing) skills in a variety of choral numbers. The choreography by Jennifer Smiles and Elizabeth Neidel Wexler works quite well in general, but not where hand props are involved. The "Sisters" number falls a bit flat, largely due to the unimaginative use of feather fans. The canes and hats in "Let Me Sing and I'm Happy" also seem to get in the way. A flamenco turn appears weak too. But let the cast dance away in their tap shoes and audience excitement builds. The act one finale ("Blue Skies") lets the excitement flag a bit, but overall the dancing is a highlight of the show.

I applaud director Brandt Blocker and set designer Lee Shiver for using the old-fashioned technique of closing the curtain to make set changes. The stage version of "White Christmas" was created less than a decade ago, when this technique had long gone out of fashion, but its use gives a classic Broadway feel to the production. The set pieces move nicely and give the actors plenty of room to play.

Costumes by Lindsey Goodson Paris and wigs by George Deavours (also a delightful cast member) are lavish and true to the period (1954). Mary Parker's lighting design doesn't always illuminate all areas of action equally, but it's hard to tell if the design or an actor's inexact blocking is the cause.

The whole thing is held together by Irving Berlin's tuneful, memorable songs. Mr. Berlin captured an optimistic American spirit in his songs, and that comes through fully in this production. It's a true holiday treat, with smiles all around on the audience's faces as the show ends. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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