REVIEW: IRVING BERLIN'S WHITE CHRISTMAS comes to the Stage of the Fox Theatre through Dec 27

December 21
4:42 2009

REVIEW: IRVING BERLIN'S WHITE CHRISTMAS comes to the Stage of the Fox Theatre through Dec 27

I originally saw Paul Blake and David Ives' adaptation of the 1954 movie White Christmas back in 2006 at the Muny. There have been some minor changes made to it since then, but it still follows the basic plot of the movie fairly closely. In fact, most of the changes center on the inclusion of additional tunes by Irving Berlin. But, any time a film is reworked for the stage it's going to draw the inevitable comparisons to its original source material, and this version, which features some outstanding moments of song and dance, falls a bit short of expectations.

The play begins in December 1944 as two army buddies, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, entertain their unit with holiday song and dance. The tough, but lovable General Waverly puts an end to the shenanigans, but not before thanking the men for their effort. Ten years later, and Bob and Phil have found stardom, but still stay in touch with their buddies from the war. The pair goes to see a sister act that they are considering adding to their show, and when Phil falls for one of the gals, he tricks Bob into accompanying them to a ski lodge in Vermont. Once there, they discover that the owner of this failing establishment is their former General. Bob cooks up a scheme to save the lodge, and romance blossoms with the Haynes sisters. Naturally, the scheme is misinterpreted which causes a rift with the sisters, but a happy ending is guaranteed for all concerned.

Stephen Bogardus heads the cast as Bob, and he acquits himself well vocally with a nice rendition of the title song. He also leads the dance troupe through a spirited take on "Blue Skies". Kerry O'Malley is also good as his reluctant love interest, Betty Haynes. She shines on a couple of duets they share together; "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep" and "How Deep is the Ocean". David Elder does strong work here as his partner, Phil Davis, bringing an energy and vitality to his portrayal. He's well matched with Megan Sikora as Judy Haynes. They're prominently featured on two songs that are highlights of the show; "The Best Things Happen When You're Dancing", and the act two opening number, "I Love a Piano". Both display considerable flair with their dancing.

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Chris Gibson Chris has been active in the local theatre scene for over 30 years. In addition to his acting work, he's also contributed as a director, writer and composer. Though, initially a film buff, he grew tired of the sanitized, PG-13 rated blockbusters that were being continually shoved down his throat by the studios. An opportunity to review theatre in St. Louis has grown exponentially with the sudden explosion of venues and talent in the region. He now finds himself obsessed with witnessing those precious, electric moments that can only happen live, on stage.


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