Photo Flash: Irving Berlin's WHITE CHRISTMAS Opens At Theatre At The Center In Munster
Irving Berlin's White Christmas opened Sunday night November 17 to a packed house at Theatre at the Center in Munster. The cast gave a thrilling performance for an audience that was teeming with the holiday spirit. Theatre at the Center Artistic Director Linda Fortunato directed and choreographed the show.
Fortunato cast Matt Edmonds as Bob, Justin Brill as Phil, Casiena Raether as Judy, Erica Stephan as Betty and Neil Friedman as General Waverly in the musical that is based on Paramount Pictures' 1954 film of the same name starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen and Dean Jagger.
Additional cast members include Raegan Smedley as Susan, Denzel Tsopnang as Sheldrake, Ann Delaney as Rita, Allyson Graves as Rhoda, John Gurdian as Ezekiel, Glory Kissel as Martha and Tessie, Andrew MacNaughton as Mike with Maggie Malaney, Matthew Huston, Lance Spencer, Victoria Newhuis and Matthew Weidenbener also part of the ensemble. William Underwood is the music director. The show continues its run through Dec. 22.
Based on the heartwarming and timeless film, the musical adaptation of Irving Berlin's White Christmas premiered in St. Louis in 2000 and opened on Broadway in 2008 followed by a national tour. The book is by David Ives and Paul Blake, with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin teamed for the story of veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, who have a successful song-and-dance act following World War II. Drawn to romance, the two follow a duo of beautiful singing sisters en route to their Christmas stage show booked at a Vermont lodge, which just happens to be owned by Bob and Phil's former army commander. The dazzling score features classic songs like "Blue Skies," "I Love A Piano," "How Deep is the Ocean" and the perennial holiday favorite and title tune "White Christmas."
Matt Edmonds (Bob) was last seen at TATC as Sparky in Forever Plaid, as L.M. in Pump Boys and Dinettes and as part of the ensemble in Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He also appeared in It's A Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago at the American Blues Theatre, Murder for Two at Marriott Lincolnshire and Death of a Salesman at Redtwist Theatre, the latter which earned him a Jeff Nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Play.
Justin Brill (Phil), was previously seen at TATC in the role of Jimmy Winter in Nice Work If You Can Get It and as Dennis in All Shook Up (a role he also played in the original Broadway production). In recent years, he has appeared as Amos in Chicago and Bert in 42nd Street at the Drury Lane Theatre.
Casiena Raether (Judy) was seen at TATC as Fraulein Kost in Cabaret and also appeared in TATC in A Wonderful Life. Previous work includes the role of Cassie in A Chorus Line, the Woman in Sherlock Holmes and The Precarious Position, Jackie in Mauritius and Ruby in Jeeves Takes a Bow, the latter at the Artists' Ensemble Theatre. She also played Belinda in Noises Off and Kitty in The Drowsy Chaperone at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.
Erica Stephan (Betty) last appeared at TATC as Billie Bendix in Nice Work If You Can Get It. Chicago credits include the role of Belle in Beauty and the Beast and the role of Irene in Crazy for You at Drury Lane Theatre. She appeared in Wonderful Town at the Goodman Theatre, as Cosette in Les Miserables at the Paramount Theatre and also in The Little Mermaid at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.
Neil Friedman was seen at TATC last year as Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street and in A Wonderful Life in 2017. He is a Jeff Award recipient and his Chicago credits include Goodman Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. He most recently appeared in The Adventures of Augie March at Court Theatre and Newsies at Paramount Theatre.
Linda Fortunato is in her fourth season as Theatre at the Center's Artistic Director, where her most recent credits include directing The Pajama Game. She also directed and choreographed Dames at Sea, Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical, Ghost: The Musical, Steel Magnolias, Big River, The Tin Woman, Cabaret, Annie Warbucks and A Christmas Story. Fortunato was choreographer for TATC productions such as Spamalot, Big Fish, A Christmas Carol: The Musical, Guys and Dolls, Crazy for You and Fiddler on the Roof. She has been nominated for five Joseph Jefferson Awards for her work as a choreographer and director and received both the Equity and Non-Equity Jeff Awards for Outstanding Choreography in the 2013-14 season, garnering Theatre at the Center's first award for her choreography of 42nd Street.
The creative team for White Christmas includes Scenic Designer Jack Magaw, Lighting Designer Denise Karczewski, Sound Designer Barry G. Funderburg, Costume Designer Brenda Winstead, Prop Designer Melissa Geel and Wig Designer Kevin Barthel. Stage manager is Jessica Banaszak. Linda Fortunato is teamed with TATC General manager Richard Friedman and Ann Davis, TATC Head of Production.
Founded in 1991, the 410-seat is a year-round professional theater at its home. The Center for Visual and Performing Arts, 1040 Ridge Road in Munster, Indiana. TATC is an accessible venue with plenty of free parking and is located off I-80/94, just 35 minutes from downtown Chicago.
Performances are 2:00 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 7:30 p.m. Fridays; 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; and 2:30 p.m. on Sundays. Individual ticket prices range from $42 - $46. To purchase individual tickets, call the Box Office at 219-836-3255. Group discounts are available for groups of 11 or more. Student tickets are $20 and gift certificates are also available. For more information on Theatre at the Center, visit ww.TheatreAtTheCenter.com.
Cast of Irving Berlin's White Christmas at Theatre at the Center
Phil Potempa with Glory Kissel.
Glory Kissel, Neil Friedman and Raegan Smedley (front)
Matthew Huston , Andrew MacNaughton, Lance Spencer and Matthew Weidenbener