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Review: IRVING BERLIN'S WHITE CHRISTMAS at Candlelight Music Theatre

Review: IRVING BERLIN'S WHITE CHRISTMAS at Candlelight Music Theatre

the musical

After a stellar run of show stoppers and extraordinary, electric entertainment in 2022, Candlelight returns to the seasonal theme of sentimental and saccharine with Irving Berlin's WHITE CHRISTMAS The Musical. Sentimentality and nostalgia are good. And, the venue is to be applauded for staging this show. It's good box office.

The opening scene is WWII, on the Western front. It is Christmas eve. (Coincidentally, the show opened quite close to our Veteran's Day, so for those servicepeople in the audience, it indubitably brought back memories; good and bad). In any event, dear reader, don't worry about this sophomoric plot. It's merely a vehicle for the Berlin tunes, kind of like a jukebox musical before jukebox musicals.

FUN FACT: Berlin wrote 3000 songs. For most of his life he could not read music. He composed only in the key of F Sharp, which are mainly the black keys. He had a transposer built into his piano, which moves the action and the keyboard to play in any key. That iconic piano resides in The Smithsonian.

Two stars from MEMPHIS, Bob (Chris Fitting) and Phil (Bryan Jeffrey) sing a sincere "Happy Holidays" and then are joined by Ralph (Anthony Connell) and the GI's in "White Christmas". (There is no better on stage charmer than Connell).

The plot proceeds to 1954. After the ensemble does a turn on the Ed Sullivan show, they party at Jimmy's; classified as a None-Too-Classy Nightclub! Bob and Betty (Rebecca Schall) sing a delightful duet, "Love And The Weather". Both performers have gorgeous voices that cascaded through the barn.

Judy (Dierdre Tracy), teams with Phil and the entire cast in a spirited production number "Snow". Both actors are triple threats and exciting to watch. Tracy's ballet background is evident. The two worked together ethereally and effortlessly. The number takes place in a train and visions of "Rock Island Line" from THE MUSIC MAN entered my mind. (Huge shout out to Mr. Snoring Man (Tim Moudy) and Mrs. Snoring Man (Nicole Lewin Mariash). Aisle Say recommends CPAP machines for the remainder of the run).

So many set changes. Aisle Say's head was on a swivel...as I am certain was Scenic Designer Jeff Reim's intention. Now we're at the barn for rehearsal (reminiscent of July Garland's SUMMER STOCK). Martha (Trudy Grayboyes) sang a wonderfully poignant, WWII vintage, "Let Me Sing and I'm Happy". Bob and Betty return for "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep", providing beautiful harmonies. First-time Director Rebecca May Flowers evocatively staged the blocking of the duets. In Betty and Bob's "How Deep Is The Ocean", Betty sang and looked like a Patty Lupone clone appearing in downtown Arden. Candlelight vets Costumer Timothy Lamont Cannon and Wigs, Hair Makeup by Clayton Stacey did their normal excellent job.

"Blue Skies", the final production number of Act I, is certainly one of Berlin's most famous and was marvelously choreographed by Jody Anderson. One witnessed some Fosse moves from the talented dancers, perhaps from "Hernando's Hideaway" in DAMN YANKEES. The sunflower pods by Lighting Designer Matthew Kator were very effective.

For the opening number of Act II, Choreo Anderson brought in tap dancer extraordinaire Scott Jacobs. "I Love A Piano" had everyone involved with the rat-a-tat-tats. The audience could not stop smiling during that number.

All in all, a great family show for the season. The food is wisely proportioned and tasty. The shrimp is by no means 'shrimp' and the garlic mashed potatoes...well, we know where Aisle Say stands on that issue!

Wonderful pictures by Tisa Della-Volpe

Candlelight Theater Delaware - Dining and Entertainment Beyond Your Expectations (candlelighttheatredelaware.org) 302.475.2313 Wow. They've redone their website.

Next up: SISTER ACT - January 21

I LOVE YOU, YOU'RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE - March 18. (an unknown musical to the majority. Aisle Say LOVES the music)



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After a stellar run of showstoppers and extraordinary, electric entertainment in 2022, Candlelight returns to the seasonal theme of sentimental and saccharine with Irving Berlin’s WHITE CHRISTMAS The Musical. Sentimentality and nostalgia are good. And, the venue is to be applauded for staging this show. It’s good box office. IRVING BERLIN'S WHITE CHRISTMA at Candlelight Music Theatre.

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