Friday, November 19, 2010

Theater Review: White Christmas – The Bushnell


Show Rings in the Holidays at the Bushnell
By Lauren Yarger
It’s snowing, the tree tops are glistening and a film comes to life on stage over at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts where Irving Berlin’s White Christmas makes a stop on its national tour through Sunday.

The stage show is based on the hit 1954 movie featuring a number of Berlin’s most popular tunes and lyrics like “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep,” “I Love a Piano,” “Sisters,” and of course “White Christmas.” If you’re looking for a serious plot (David Ives and Paul Blake, book), or strong singing voices (there's way too much vibrato up there for me), this production isn’t for you, but if you’re looking for some nostalgia, some great dancing and a wholesome way to celebrate Christmas with the family, get over to the box office.

John Sherer and Denis Lambert star as Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, a song-and-dance act trying to help their former WWII General Henry Waverly (Erick Devine) save his financially troubled Vermont Inn. Helping are their love interests and sister act Betty and Judy Haynes (Amy Bodnar and Shannon M. O’Brian).

Norb Joerder directs the large ensemble’s action on nice travelling sets adapted by Kenneth Foy (Anna Louizos, original Broadway design) enhanced by Randy Skinner’s well-executed choreography and Carrie Robbin’s colorful costumes. The orchestra is conducted by Musical Director John Vesser. There are some sound issues (Peter Fitzgerald, Erich Bechtel) as the actors’ voices sound tinny or echo throughout.

Standing out is Ruth Williamson as Martha Watson, the general’s assistant, who belts out a couple of numbers (showing the best singing skill in the troupe) and who milks the role for some fun humor. Also fun is James Young as “a-yupping” New Englander Ezekiel Foster.

For tickets call the box office at 860-987-6000 or visit http://www.bushnell.org/.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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