REVIEW — In case you aren’t familiar with the stage musical or heaven forbid the iconic 1954 film of the same name on which the production is based, “White Christmas” has little to do with Christmas and yet manages to produce a sentimental spirit that makes it a sweet slice of feel-good pie.
Tuacahn’s adaptation relies heavily on the excellent direction and choreography by Mara Newbery Greer, a winning cast that captures the old Hollywood feel of the era and several particularly strong secondary characters – an area where mediocre performances can sink a production filled with some of composer Irving Berlin’s best work.
The story follows the script of the famous movie closely – WWII veteran buddies Bob Wallace and Phil Davis (Dan Fenaughty, Ben Lanham), who’ve become a successful song and dance act are looking for some more talent to freshen up their show.
When they meet the Haynes sisters, Betty and Judy (Kerry Conte, Jessica Wockenfuss), they follow the ladies up to their seasonal engagement at the Columbia Inn in Vermont. When they learn the inn is owned by their former commander General Waverly (Randal Keith), they decide to put on a big show to help save the venue from going under.
The musical is practically a greatest hits revue by Berlin so in addition to the titular song, also features “Happy Holiday,” “Sisters,” “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep) and “Blue Skies” (which like several songs, is also featured in the newer and just as enjoyable musical “Holiday Inn”). Theater devotees will notice that all these favorites are performed in the first act making it, well, a difficult act to follow.
But the show, which can run the gamut of cheesy to corny, is rescued by the thrilling dance numbers where a talented ensemble and especially skilled dancers Lanham and Wockenfuss (whose name sounds like a delicious holiday cocktail) really sparkle.
Character actors in the roles of Martha the boisterous concierge (Charis Leos), Mike the over-the-top Stage Manager (Rendell Debose), Susan the General’s adorable granddaughter (Harper Griffith) and the aforementioned Keith (think George C. Scott with a soft side) deliver plenty of personality – the heartfelt icing on what could be a run-of-the-mill cake.
Tuacahn’s “White Christmas” continues a strong streak of winners produced on the indoor Hafen Theater so despite the occasional bad wig and air-conditioning in the wintertime – only a humbug wouldn’t enjoy this old-fashioned-is-the-new-fashion production.
“White Christmas” performs daily (including some matinees) except Sunday through Dec. 22. with ticket prices ranging from $32 to $92. Children under 5 are not permitted. Contact Tuacahn.org or 435-652-3300 for tickets and information.
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