Review Roundup: Critics Weigh In On HOLIDAY INN At Paper Mill Playhouse
Paper Mill Playhouse presents Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn, based on the film from Universal Pictures, with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, and book by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge. Performances will continue through Sunday, December 30, 2018, at Paper Mill Playhouse (22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, NJ).
Directed by Mr. Greenberg (The Baker's Wife, 1776 - Paper Mill), and with choreography by Denis Jones (Mary Poppins - Paper Mill, Holiday Inn - Broadway, Tony nomination), music direction by Shawn Gough (Annie, Paper Mill), the principal cast features Paige Faure (Honeymoon in Vegas - Paper Mill) as Lila Dixon,Jordon Gelber (Avenue Q) as Danny, Ann Harada (Avenue Q) as Louise, Jeff Kready (Thoroughly Modern Millie - Paper Mill) as Ted Hanover, Hayley Podschun (Peter Pan - Paper Mill) as Linda Mason, Nicholas Rodriguez (Tarzan) as Jim Hardy with Jian Harrell and Aidan Alberto alternating in the role of Charlie Winslow.
They are be joined by Jordon Beall, Gene Biscontini, Colin Bradbury, Tricia Desario, Taylor Fields, Kelly Gleason, Juliane Godfrey, Berklea Going,Joshua Israel, Julie Kavanagh, Mallory Nolting, Clifton Samuels, JT Teeling, Karl Skylar Urban, Amy Van Norstrand, Scarlett Walker, Travis Ward-Osborne, and John T. Wolfe.
In this musical based on the beloved Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire film, Jim Hardy leaves behind the hustle and bustle of showbiz for a quiet life on a Connecticut farm. Jim's agrarian efforts are a flop, but things start looking up when he falls for a talented schoolteacher, and together they infuse their sleepy rural setting with some Broadway razzle-dazzle. Fresh from a Broadway run, this heartwarming, toe-tapping production features more than 20 classic songs from the Berlin catalog, including "Easter Parade," "Cheek to Cheek," "Steppin' Out with My Baby," and "White Christmas."
The production team includes set design by Anna Louizos, costume design by Alejo Vietti, lighting design by Jeff Croiter, sound design by Matt Kraus, hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe. The production stage manager is Victoria Navarro. Casting is by Telsey + Company, Laura Wade, CSA.
Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn will be performed at Paper Mill Playhouse eight times a week, Wednesday through Sunday. Performance schedule: Wednesday at 7:00pm, Thursday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm, Friday at 7:00pm, Saturday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm and Sunday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm. Please note: There are no performances on November 22 (Thanksgiving Day), December 24 (Christmas Eve) and December 25 (Christmas Day). Tickets are on sale now starting at $34. Tickets may be purchased by calling 973.376.4343, at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at www.PaperMill.org.
Let's see what the critics have to say!
Patrick Maley, NJ Advance Media: Under the direction of Gordon Greenberg (who also directed the show's Broadway 2016 run and co-wrote the book with Chad Hodge), this production does a perfectly serviceable job of offering a showpiece for timeless Irving Berlin songs like "Blues Skies" and "White Christmas." The cast seems to have fun playing these mid-century throwback characters, as each of the principles finds some moments for levity or meta-awareness. Some of the best moments come from the comic relief of Ann Harada and Jordan Gelber (who delivers the show's one killer joke, mocking Connecticut's WASP infestation). Choreographer Denis Jones (who garnered a Tony nomination for his work on this show's Broadway residence) frequently whips his full cast into impressively organized frenzy, but also finds some moments for a more delicate touch. The plot builds off of an inherent dance-partner chemistry that emerges between Ted and Linda, a condition captured nicely by Jones, Kready, and Podschun.
Jim Beckerman, North Jersey Record: On the plus side, the songs in "Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn" are plentiful, however spotty some of the arrangements may be. And some are neglected gems: "Marching Along With Time" and "Be Careful, It's My Heart" are nice to hear (happily, the big blackface Lincoln's Birthday number from the original movie didn't make it into the stage show).
Marina Kennedy, BroadwayWorld: The musical numbers shine as bright as your holiday lights. With over 20 of Irving Berlin's classic masterpieces, it's hard to pick a favorite. Audiences will enjoy well known songs like "Blue Skies" by Jim and Ensemble; "Heat Wave" with Ted Lila, and Ensemble; "White Christmas" with Jim and Linda; ""Happy Holiday" with Jim, Louise, and Ensemble; "Cheek to Cheek" with Ted, Linda, and Ensemble; "Easter Parade" with Ted, Linda, Jim, and Ensemble; and "White Christmas" with Linda and Jim. Along with these beloved gems, the production beautifully showcases Berlin's lesser known songs that include "It's a Lovely Day Today" by Jim, Lila and Louise; "Nothing More to Say" with Linda; Be Careful, It's My Heart" with Jim Linda and Ted" and "Song of Freedom" with Linda, Ted, and Jim. You'll be tapping your toes in time to the music while you watch the extraordinary numbers unfold on stage.
Ryan Leeds, The Broadway Blog: Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn is the type of show that should not be analyzed. Instead, it should be consumed as a form of total escapism. Every year, theaters around the world stage A Christmas Carol. Don't get me wrong-the Dickens' story is a tried and true classic for a reason. But Paper Mill has something different to offer. Sure, it may be frivolous and frothy, but sometimes it doesn't hurt to put your brain on cruise control and enjoy the sleigh ride.
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