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Review Roundup: HOLIDAY INN Opens on Broadway


Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical opens officially tonight at Studio 54 (254 West 54th Street). BroadwayWorld will have all the reviews as they roll in. Let's see what the critics had to say:

Charles Isherwood, The New York Times: The interpolated songs are integrated into the plot smoothly enough, without lifting the show's mild temperature or bringing new definition to the characters. And unfortunately the choreography, by Denis Jones, features numerous tap routines that are more workmanlike than inspired, and occasionally seem to go on forever. A spirited jump-roping number is the freshest novelty.

Steven Suskin, The Huffington Post: We now have a second Irving Berlin movie-turned-musical, this one derived from the 1942 "Holiday Inn," which also starred Crosby (with Fred Astaire as his song-and-dance partner/rival). A decidedly better and more enjoyable film than "White Christmas," it is rather surprising to find that Holiday Inn-offered as the Roundabout's big fall musical-makes a decidedly weaker stage attraction.

Matt Windman, AM New York: "White Christmas" - no wait, I mean "Holiday Inn" - has a sentimental, old-fashioned plot where boy meets girl, loses girl, and finally wins girl while the gang puts on a show in the barn. It also sports a cozy post-World War II setting, lovely songs that have stood the test of time, decent performances from a likable cast (led by Bryce Pinkham and Corbin Bleu) and polished dance choreography.

Melissa Rose Bernardo, Entertainment Weekly: Still, you'd have to be a total Grinch not to melt even a little during Berlin's comforting-as-cocoa Christmas ballad. And who couldn't succumb to the charms of the tap-happy "Shaking the Blues Away," a massive tree-trimming production number led by that comic dynamo Megan Lawrence as a Rosie the Riveter-meets-Lucille Ball scene stealer?

Alexis Soloski, The Guardian: The book, by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge, has modernized the tale somewhat (the blackface routine is no more), but not too much. (Surely in this day and age it would be Jim and Ted who band together to open that B&B. And they might have decorated it more handsomely.) The story has an old-timey predictability that may delight those with more conservative tastes, but no real effort has been made to differentiate this show from the other recent Berlin offering, White Christmas, or to integrate the songs into the show. "What could be better than Broadway?" a hoofer asks. Then Jim launches into Blue Skies. You can check out anytime you like, and chances are that one will - and quite often - as the leaden dialogue trudges to its close.

Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter: Most musicals are lucky to have one showstopping number. Holiday Inn, the new Broadway show adapted from the 1942 film starring Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby, features two. One of them, "Shaking the Blues Away," sums up what this musical packed with 20 Irving Berlin songs succeeds in doing. So sweetly wholesome that you experience a sugar rush while watching it, the show is corny and predictable. But it will surely provide a happy diversion for stressed-out theatergoers during the holiday season, much like its similarly conceived predecessor, White Christmas, which received limited end-of-year Broadway runs in 2008 and 2009.

Frank Rizzo, Variety: Choreographer Denis Jones is the star player of the production, keeping things playful by finding dance opportunities with wheelbarrows, firecrackers and Christmas garlands - and nearly stopping the show with the exuberant "Shaking the Blues Away," which evokes the best of MGM musicals. Terrific also are Alejo Vietti's costumes and fab Easter hats, which embrace '40s swank, showbiz glitz and stylish down-on-the-farm casual. (It's Connecticut, after all.)

Robert Kahn, NBC New York: 'Holiday Inn" is a lovely excuse to get lost in the Berlin chestnuts, particularly as they've been reimagined by choreographer Jones ("Honeymoon in Vegas"). The new story sometimes tries too hard to be charming and old-fashioned, but overall "Holiday Inn" is a satisfying autumn offering.

Jeremy Gerard, Deadline: Pinkham, a Tony nominee for A Gentlemans Guide To Love & Murder, is no crooner; indeed, he's the Ethel Merman in the mix, singing like the brass section and selling every word to the balcony. Corbin Bleu, of the High School Musical franchise, is the discovery, tapping up a storm that recalls the young Sammy Davis Jr., technical brilliance and cockiness and goodtime in one barely containable package. Sikora also has the right metalurgy of voice, while it's up to Lawrence to infuse the operation with warmth, and she's endearingly up to the task.

Jennifer Farrar, ABC News: Several songs are abbreviated in medleys, but the nostalgia factor is amped up with plenty of full, splashy dazzling dance numbers and lavish costumes. Jones has filled the cavernous stage with exuberant choreography, and the nimble, hardworking ensemble is airborne one minute, then dreamily waltzing the next.

Robert Hofler, The Wrap: Holiday Inn" is the kind of musical that makes you wish there were fewer holidays in the year. By the time the show's big Fourth of July number rolls around, theatergoers will be hoping they skip Labor Day and Thanksgiving to wrap it up quickly with a Santa Claus finale. Slower than that spiritless denouement is the entire first act, which takes 50 minutes to deliver the show's farm-saving concept that everyone knew before walking into Studio 54, where this "new Irving Berlin musical" opened Thursday under the auspices of the Roundabout.

Jesse Green, Vulture: Among the 22 songs, many more relate to the wisp of a love-triangle plot than to the supposed theme, thus emphasizing the build-up instead of the payoff. And that build-up is tedious, as the former song-and-dance man, Jim Hardy, and his hoofer ex-partner, Ted Hanover, compete for the affections of Lila Dixon, a leggy bimbo, and then Linda Mason, a homey good girl. Indeed, the lumpy structure makes you wait until nearly the end of the first act for the "inn" numbers to start, and thus for the show to get moving. At that point a terrific production number of "Shaking the Blues Away," led by Megan Lawrence as a butch "fix-it man" - don't ask - briefly makes you forget how unsatisfying the show has been so far.

David Cote, TimeOut New York: Taking on the Astaire role as cocky hoofer Ted Hanover, Corbin Bleu (High School Musical) has a winning muscularity and grace in various tap and ballroom sequences. Pinkham generates some chemistry with Lora Lee Gayer as a lonely schoolteacher whose family used to own the house. They duet sweetly on "White Christmas," one of the two dozen-odd Irving Berlin ditties jukeboxed into a jazzy-elegant score. And let's hear it for the chorus-an adorable, charmingly diverse bunch. Sure, there's more corn and cheese served in this earnest, sweater-vested affair than any nutritionist would approve, but what harm in a cup of early eggnog?

Christopher Kelly, But as directed with generosity and warmth by Gordon Greenberg (who also co-wrote the show with Chad Hodges) - and as performed by a pair of dashing and very endearing leading men, Bryce Pinkham and Corbin Bleu - this "Holiday Inn" wears down all defenses.

Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal: [It] is less a show than a cash machine, a cynical repurposing of the beloved 1942 Bing Crosby-Fred Astaire film that exists solely to make as much money as possible for the Roundabout Theatre Company. It's slick, synthetic and soulless, a musical full of robotic jokes and devoid of genuine romance.

The New York Daily News: It's familiar and vanilla-flavored fluff, but with tasty sprinkles: a fine cast, tap-happy hoofing and colorfully witty costumes. "White Christmas" and "Easter Parade" are two famous songs. The lesser-known "Let's Say it With Firecrackers" sparkles in red, white and Bleu.

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