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Irving Berlin's White Christmas (Review)

Touring holiday show is a Technicolor spectacular

By Rick Pender · November 13th, 2009 · Onstage

Critic's Pick

If you enjoy musicals — especially movie musicals — you’re in for a great time at the Aronoff Center, where Broadway Across America is presenting the first touring production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.

OK, so it’s early for a holiday show. Truth is, while this production has a few classic seasonal tunes, it’s way more about big dance and production numbers. It has a holiday sparkle, but the music, energy and polished performances will impress you.

The show’s flimsy plot is about four singers struggling to stage a show at a Vermont inn where the snow has refused to fall. The 1954 film was a Technicolor spectacular, and those brilliant hues inspired this stage version, which glows with vivid costumes and glittering sets.

It all looks very “stagy,” but that’s the point.

The leads are Broadway talent, especially Stephen Bogardus and Kerry O’Malley, who first played their parts in New York City in 2008. They’re joined by the dance pair of David Elder and Megan Sikora, a dream to watch, especially in “The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing” and “I Love a Piano,” which becomes a gigantic, crowd-pleasing tap number.

The entire cast is a dancing machine and the production numbers make White Christmas fun to watch, from the stylish “Blue Skies” to the closing reprise of the title tune. One more plus: The inn’s sassy manager is played by Lorna Luft, who happens to be Judy Garland’s daughter (and Liza Minelli’s half-sister). She’s a veteran performer in her own right and a force of nature onstage.

Finally, let’s get over the fact that White Christmas is here before Thanksgiving. We’re the second stop on the show’s holiday tour, which moves on to Philadelphia, East Lansing, St. Louis, Louisville and Kansas City, the latter in January. I’ll take November.

IRVING BERLIN’S WHITE CHRISTMAS, presented by Broadway Across America, continues through Nov. 22 at the Aronoff Center for the Arts. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.




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