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Review: MTW Has a Rollicking HOLIDAY INN

Review: MTW Has a Rollicking HOLIDAY INN

Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn/based on the film from Universal Pictures/book by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge/music & lyrics by Irving Berlin/directed by Danny Pelzig/choreographed by Christine Negherbon/musical director: Dennis Castellano/MTW (Musical Theatre West) at the Carpenter Center for the Performing Arts, Long Beach/through December 15 only

Who can beat the prolific talent and indomitable spirit of Irving Berlin? His music is ageless. On film Holiday Inn in 1942 introduced the world to "White Christmas" that became a great big movie hit as well but not for another 12 years. Many forget that White Christmas was a hit in 1954. Then White Christmas became a hit onstage in 2000 and Holiday Inn didn't come to Broadway until 2016. We're talking almost a hundred years, and people still crave Irving Berlin.

MTW, always a regional leader in great musical theatre, is currently presenting the West Coast premiere of the stage musical Holiday Inn but only through next weekend December 15. It is such a magnificent holiday show with its beautiful songs, zippy choreography from Christine Negherbon, and under the terrific direction of Danny Pelzig, the ensemble deliver sensational performances.

It is easy to see why Irving Berlin shows are still the rage, not only for the music, but they are fun-filled with very slim plots, lots of laughs and ... romance. We don't see romance delivered up with song and dance that often today, so oldsters like myself really love the nostalgia, and when it is presented to the younger generation, they love it too. You don't have to think, just sit back and relax and savor what you see, like eating a hot fudge sundae.

Let's talk plot, characters and the terrific actors playing them. Cameron Bond plays singer/dancer Jim Hardy. He is in love with his female partner Lila Dixon played by Jennifer Knox. Jim wants to leave the act, so buys a farm in Connecticut for himself and Lila, but Lila has other plans. She wants a career so goes off with the other partner Ted Hanover played by Jeffrey Scott Parsons, leaving Jim to deal with an ailing farm, increasing debt but ... bring on Natalie Storrs as Linda Mason, a local school teacher, who can also sing and dance. With the help of Louise a comedic miss fixit played by Liz Eldridge, the two convert the house and barn into a resort dinner theatre that only operates throughout the year on holidays. Eventually Ted Hanover returns as does Lila and disaster befalls Jim and his chance to be happy with Linda. Not to fret, as in the end, there is happiness for one and all.

As to this cast, every one of them has their shining turn in the spotlight. Bond as Jim has never been better with his fine voice and Parsons on equal footing with his superb dancing. Dixon and Storrs make delicious rivals with both cutting the mustard in song and dance. Liz Eldridge is a comic gem as Louise, never missing a beat with her big style. She is also a wonderful song and dance lady. Finally, Jeff Skowron plays agent Danny, who makes the best of a smaller role by creating a real character. In Skowron's hands, Danny is amusing and unforgettable. Kudos to the entire chorus who are lovely triple threat performers.

Berlin's songs like "Be Careful It's My Heart", "Let's Take an Old-Fashioned Walk" and "Shaking the Blues Away" just tantalize along with more popular ones like "Heat Wave", "Blue Skies" and "Easter Parade". The sets and costumes are direct from Broadway, so none of the original color of the show is lost.

Take the trip to Long Beach next weekend and put yourselves in a holiday mood with this sparkling production of Holiday Inn. You know you want to!

(photo credit: Caught in the Moment Photography)

Regional Awards

From This Author - Don Grigware

  Don Grigware was a writer for BroadwayWorld through December 2019.                            ... (read more about this author)