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BWW Review: IRVING BERLIN'S WHITE CHRISTMAS at the John W. Engeman Theatre

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The Matt Kunkel directed musical, running through January 2nd at the exquisite Northport venue, boasts a beautifully talented, stellar cast.

BWW Review: IRVING BERLIN'S WHITE CHRISTMAS at the John W. Engeman Theatre

Whenever you see a production presented by the John W. Engeman theatre, you're in for a wonderful event, especially around the holidays. Their current offering this holiday season, Irving Berlin's White Christmas, based on the classic Paramount Pictures film, is no exception. The Matt Kunkel directed musical, running through January 2nd at the exquisite Northport venue, boasts a beautifully talented, stellar cast.

Set in 1944, World War II Army vets Bob Wallace, portrayed by Aaron Young, and Phil Davis, portrayed by Daniel Plimpton, partner up to become a song and dance act after they are discharged from the war. Being that the movie version had Bing Crosby as Bob Wallace and Danny Kaye as Phil Davis, top notch performers are needed for these roles and these great actors brilliantly delivered. Their bond is strong and they compliment each other well.

Bob and Phil meet a singing sister duo, Betty and Judy Haynes, stunningly portrayed by Meadow Nguy and Darien Crago, respectively. Bob and Phil were originally going to take their act to Florida, but end up going to a Vermont resort where the sisters are headed. Ms. Nguy and Ms. Crago are fantastic in their roles. Indeed, a heartwarming performance of "Sisters", complete with gorgeous blue dresses and large feathered fans, is certainly an audience favorite.

Coincidentally, the resort they go to is owned by their old Army commander General Henry Waverly portrayed strongly by Keith Lee Grant. At the time, business is slow at the resort due to the lack of snow. To surprise the General, Bob and Phil get in touch with another army buddy, Ralph Sheldrake portrayed by Nick Abbott, to have their old division come to the resort to check out their new act featuring The Haynes Sisters. The most poignant part of the show comes from General Waverly where he gives a very emotional speech thanking those who came. During the speech, the audience is acknowledged as if it were a banquet hall of soldiers he commanded the year before.

General Waverly's manager at the resort is the hilariously bossy Martha Watson portrayed by Suzanne Mason. As a former Broadway actress, Martha surprises everyone with her strong voice offering to be part of the show they're putting together. Another highlight is Engeman vet AnnaBelle Deaner as Susan Waverly, the General's granddaughter. Bitten by the acting bug as she's watching everyone rehearse for the show at the resort, Susan thrillingly sings "Let Me Sing and I'm Happy" in act two to everyone's enthusiastic approval.

On the creative team, Choreographer Drew Humphrey did a superb job recreating the mostly tap performances. Kyle Dixon's set is beautiful as well. The most elaborate was the barn they rehearsed in. It has wooden walls that went all the way up to the rafters and into the wings. The ending scene is incredibly gorgeous as well. Dustin Cross' costumes added to the ambiance of the show from Bob and Phil's Army fatigues to the beautiful holiday dresses Betty and Judy wear for the big ending number, everyone looked stunning.

As you can see, Irving Berlin's White Christmas is one production that should not be missed this holiday season. A beautiful and enthusiastic cast and playful music (including the show's namesake) will make for a dazzling evening of theatre.

Irving Berlin's White Christmas is presented by the John W. Engeman Theatre of Northport, Long Island, through January 2nd. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.


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