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TUTS Announces Cast for Irving Berlin's White Christmas

Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) is proud to produce the classic holiday story and brand NEW holiday musical, WHITE CHRISTMAS, December 4-21, 2008 at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Houston. The all-time number one pop song and most-recorded tune in history inspired first a beloved classic film, and now a brand-new, splashy family musical as rare as Texas snow.

Starring are Michael Gruber (Bob Wallace) who has been seen on Broadway in such shows as A Chorus Line, Cats, The Wizard of Oz, Kiss Me, Kate, Stairway to Paradise, Swing!, Miss Saigon, Laughing Room Only and My Favorite Year, and played the lead roll in Theatre Under The Stars' production of Singin In The Rain; Beverly Ward (Betty Haynes). TUTS-goers may remember her performance here in Paint Your Wagon; John MacInnis (Phil Davis), who in his last visit to TUTS, choreographed the production of Kiss Me, Kate; Tari Kelly (Judy Haynes) who happily reprises the role she held for Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre and California Music Theatre; Carol Swarbrick (Martha Watson) also at TUTS for Makin' Whoopee!, Into The Woods and Zorro, The Musical; Michael Tapley (Ralph Sheldrake) who has played the title role in The Who's Tommy on Broadway, on National tour and in Germany; and Jay Tribble (Ezekiel) who is excited about making his TUTS debut. His recent stage credits include Masquerade Theatre: Sound of Music (Max Detweiler), Jekyll & Hyde (Dr. Jekyll Sr.), Little Women (Mr. Lawrence), Music Man (Conductor & Constable).

Also starring in TUTS production of Irving Berlin's WHITE CHRISTMAS is Houston native Kevin Cooney, as General Waverly. Cooney has performed with TUTS in A Wonderful Life, 110 In The Shade, and Anything Goes. Kevin starred here in The Music Man, South Pacific, Sugar, Company, Little Me, 1776 and made his Broadway debut with The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Cooney has toured nationally with Big River, Other People's Money, and Madame Butterfly. His extensive TV and movie credits include "Nip/Tuck," "Medium," "Cold Case," "CSI", "Without A Trace," Trip To Bountiful, Primary Colors, Austin Powers, Legally Blonde, Charlie Wilson's War.

Broadway veteran Jamie Rocco will both direct and choreograph the TUTS production of Irving Berlin's White Christmas. Also on the creative team is Anna Louizos (Set Designer) who designed the TUTS' production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in 2007. Her Broadway credits include In the Heights (2008 Tony nomination); Curtains (Drama Desk, Nomination); High Fidelity (2007 Tony nomination) among others. Carrie Robbins (Costume Designer) brings design experience from more than 30 Broadway shows including Class Act, Grease, Over Here (Tony Nomination), Agnes of God, Yentl, Octette Bridgeclub, Sweet Bird of Youth with Lauren Bacall, Frankenstein, and Happy End with Meryl Streep.

The ensemble cast of Irving Berlin's WHITE CHRISTMAS includes Katie Lee Allen, Brad Bass, MalloryBechtel, Staci Bonura, Marnie Buckner, Sarah Burkett, Chris Canal, Kari Lee Cartwright, Marybelle Chaney, Laura Duggan, Tim Falter, Danny Gardner, Gabby Gillespie, Tyce Green, Storey Hinojosa, Richard Keck, Robin Levine, Rachael Logue, Mark X. Laskowski, Brent McBeth, Jayme McDaniel, Krissy Richmond, Jim Shaffer, Trina Simon, Chris Tipps, Tony Vierling, Molly Marie Walsh, and Zephyrus White.

TUTS' dazzling production of Irving Berlin's WHITE CHRISTMAS is part of the 2008-2009 "Wow! What a Season" offering of fresh new shows. The musical is based on the 1954 movie, "White Christmas" starring Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby, who play war-buddies turned vaudeville showmen. The plot thickens when they meet two song-bird sisters and romantic antics ensue. The story climaxes when the stars host a musical review in honor of their retired Army captain, drawing the audience into a richly choreographed musical number commemorating the troops' gratitude.

With a cast of 32, nearly two-dozen musicians, elaborate staging, choreography and costumes, the show is a true spectacle. No production of WHITE CHRISTMAS would be complete without snow and TUTS' production does not disappoint: snow will fall throughout Sarofim Hall onto theatre-goers below! WHITE CHRISTMAS also serves as the perfect framework for the presentation of Berlin's hit songs "Blue Skies," "Count Your Blessings" and the title song, "White Christmas."

In the conjunction with Art For Soldiers, Theatre Under The Stars features holiday card and artwork making stations in the lobby at each show, providing youngsters and families the opportunity to create unique artwork to be mailed to veterans and soldiers. Additionally, to help audiences get into the holiday mood, "White Christmas," the movie, will be showing free to the public at Discovery Green at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening.

Tickets for TUTS' production of WHITE CHRISTMAS (starting at $32) are available to the public by phone at (713) 558-8887 or outside the Houston area at (888) 558-3882; or in person at the Theatre Under The Stars Box Office, (800 Bagby at Walker, Mon-Fri 9a.m.-6p.m, Sat-Sun 11a.m.-4p.m.); or on-line at An audio described performance is available December 14 at 2 p.m.; open captioning December 14 at 7:30p.m. The Hobby Center is wheelchair accessible. Student and senior (60+) discount tickets are available one hour before performance at the box office only. In keeping with the military theme of WHITE CHRISTMAS, military families receive a discount at the box office with their military IDs one hour before each performance. Discounts for groups of 15 or more are available and may be purchased by calling (713) 558-8888 or via email at

The TUTS 2008-2009 season is sponsored by Continental Airlines, Spectra Energy, St. Luke's Episcopal Health System. Sponsors of the TUTS production of Irving Berlin's WHITE CHRISTMAS include ConocoPhilips, Total and URS Corporation. Media sponsors include ABC-13 and Houston Chronicle.

Founded in 1968, Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) is Houston's acclaimed non-profit musical theatre company and is currently under the direction of President and CEO John C. Breckenridge. Dedicated to producing new works and classic masterpieces, the 2008-2009 "Wow! What a Season." celebrates TUTS' 41st Season of bringing world-class musical theatre to Houston audiences.

TUTS was the first theatrical organization in Houston to perform free to the public in 1968 at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park, and is the only Houston arts organization that has performed there free to the public every year since the building opened. Since its founding by Frank M. Young, TUTS has produced more than 300 musicals including many local, national and world premieres such as Disney's Beauty and the Beast, as well as International tours including Debbie Reynolds in The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Juliet Prowse in Mame, Robert Goulet in Man of La Mancha, the Tony Award-winning revival of Carousel and the Deaf West Theatre production of Big River.

As a way to continue the tradition of musical theatre, TUTS' Humphreys School of Musical Theatre provides instruction and stage experience for more than 1,700 students annually through both The Academy and The Studio, which allow students to flourish in a year-round schedule of classes. Housed in the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, TUTS also annually presents the Tommy Tune Awards, honoring the best and brightest in Houston's high school musical theatre programs.

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