BWW Reviews: Irving Berlin's WHITE CHRISTMAS at the Gateway
Whenever you see a production presented by the Gateway Theatre, you're in for a wonderful event. Their current musical, Irving Berlin's White Christmas, based on the Paramount Pictures film, is no exception. This David Ruttura directed production is even fortunate to have the original sets and choreography as the Broadway showing (more on that later).
Running through December 30th at The Patchogue Theatre on Main Street in Patchogue, just west of their Bellport venue, the beautifully talented cast is lead by Christopher Vettel and Matthew Labanca. Set in 1944, World War II Army buddies Bob Wallace, portrayed by Mr. Vettel, and Phil Davis, portrayed by Mr. LaBanca, partner up to become a song and dance act after they are discharged from the war. Being that the movie version had Bing Crosby as Bob Wallace and Danny Kaye as Phil Davis, top notch performers were needed and these great actors delivered. Their bond was strong and complimented each other well.
Bob and Phil meet a singing sister duo, Betty and Judy Haynes, portrayed by Trista Moldovan and Alissa Alter, respectively. Bob and Phil were originally going to take their act south but end up going to a Vermont resort where the sisters are headed. Ms. Moldovan and Ms. Alter were fantastic in their roles. Their stunning performance of "Sisters", complete with blue dresses and large feathered fans, in the first act was an audience favorite.
Coincidentally, the resort they go to is owned by their old Army commander General Henry Waverly portrayed by Steve Brady. At this time, business is slow at the resort due to the lack of snow. Bob and Phil get in touch with another army buddy, Ralph Sheldrake, portrayed by Michael Baker, to have their old division come to the resort to check out their new act featuring The Haynes Sisters. The most poignant part of the show comes from General Waverly where he gives a very emotional speech thanking those who came. During the speech, he acknowledged the audience as if it were a banquet hall of soldiers he commanded the year before.
General Waverly's manager at the resort was the bossy Martha Watson portrayed by Beth Glover. As a former Broadway actress, the demure Martha surprises everyone with her strong voice offering to be part of the act they're putting together. While Ms. Glover was a fine Martha Watson, a more comedic/shtick outlet may have been great for the role. Another highlight was Gateway student Alison Cordaro as Susan, the General's granddaughter. Bitten by the acting bug as she's watching everyone rehearse for the show at the resort, Susan sings "Let Me Sing and I'm Happy" in act two to everyone's enthusiastic approval.
As mentioned, the choreography and sets Gateway used were part of the Broadway production. Choreographer Mary Giattino did a wonderful job recreating the mostly tap performances. The sets were beautiful as well. The most elaborate was a scene where they're in a high class jazz club with palm trees, porcelain fountains, and people dressed to the nines. The barn they rehearsed in had wooden walls that went all the way up to the rafters and into the wings. The costumes added to the ambiance from Bob and Phil's Army fatigues to the Santa inspired dresses Betty and Judy wore for the big ending number, everyone looked stunning.
As you can see, this is one production that should not be missed this holiday season. A beautiful and enthusiastic cast and playful music (including the show's namesake) will make for a dazzling evening of theatre.
Irving Berlin's White Christmas is presented at Patchogue Theatre by the Gateway Theatre company through December 30th. Based on the Paramount Film; Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin, Book by David Ives and Paul Blake, Directed by David Ruttura, Musical Direction by Nathan Perry, Choreography by Mary Giattino, Wardrobe Supervision by Marianne Dominy, Original Scenic Design and Scenic Pieces by Anna Louizos, Orchestrations by Larry Blank, Vocal and Dance Arrangements by Bruce Pomahac