Review: I'm Dreaming of a Beef & Boards WHITE CHRISTMAS

By: Nov. 26, 2023
Review: I'm Dreaming of a Beef & Boards WHITE CHRISTMAS

There are many films that can be considered iconic, and that is especially true of holiday films. However, there is a special place in so many hearts for Irving Berlin’s WHITE CHRISTMAS. Its staying power has held true since its premiere in 1954, and there can be no doubt as to why. Every scene is full of charm, a dash of humor, and of course singing and dancing. Throw in Beef & Boards, and you’re guaranteed to have a truly festive feast!

Irving Berlin’s WHITE CHRISTMAS had to undergo a few changes to make it work as a musical, but they were welcome additions. They helped with some of the plot points, created more comedy, and brought up the pacing, too. It makes it much more digestible for modern families who have different expectations around what a show should be. 

One of my favorite additions would have to be the extension of the character of the general’s housekeeper. Instead of being a somewhat comedic, nosy housekeeper, the old character of Emma is transformed into Martha. And Martha just so happens to be a retired Broadway star. Her character was pulled together by the excellent acting of Carrie Neal who gave her a next-level gusto. She especially took command during “Let Me Sing And I’m Happy.” 

Although I did miss some of the dance scenes that were original to the film, the musical gave me a special gift in the form of “I Love A Piano.” It is a spectacular feature of the tap dancing skills of both Kenney Green-Tilford (Phil Davis) and Deb Wims (Judy Haynes), as well as the rest of the cast. I had no trouble buying into their love story or their mutual love of dance. They radiated pure joy in that scene. 

How do you take an already charming story and make it more charming? Feature a talented young actress, of course! Abby Kai Johnson did a wonderful job as Susan, the general’s granddaughter. She had a terrific wit and handled the stage with confidence during her reprise of “Let Me Sing And I’m Happy.”

The role of Capt. Bob Wallace takes some talent, not only because of the physical and musical demands it includes but also because the role was originated by the Bing Crosby. Bing’s voice is already making its way across the airwaves everywhere this holiday season with his sultry, deep croon. Luckily, Elliott Litherland was up to the challenge and delivered. I believed he was a Broadway headliner with a heart of gold who would stop at nothing to honor the great Gen. Henry Waverly (Jeff Stockberger). 

It’s rather odd to call out a character who graces the stage just a few times and doesn’t have a notable solo or dance number. But I’m going to do it anyway. I loved the character Ezekiel (Brett Mutter). He was a hilarious addition to the musical, and Mutter was masterful at the physical comedy needed to pull it off. I’d gladly watch him shuffle through a barn anytime. 

Audiences can expect all of Beef & Boards best at Irving Berlin’s WHITE CHRISTMAS. There’s stunning choreography by Ron Morgan, exceptional singing by the whole cast, and the delicious holiday buffet created by Chef Larry Stoops. If you want your chance to enjoy this Christmas spectacle, you’ll be hard pressed to find the last few tickets–the show is nearly sold out for all dates! A few still linger for the week after Christmas and for the special Beef & Boards New Year’s Eve party. 

In case you can’t make your way to WHITE CHRISTMAS, then be sure to take a peek at Beef & Boards upcoming 2024 season. It includes a full lineup of classics, comedies, and (as always) excellent music. Get your tickets now for shows like BEAUTIFUL: THE Carole King MUSICAL, THE WIZARD OF OZ, MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET, and more!