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Review: WHITE CHRISTMAS at Titusville Playhouse

Review: WHITE CHRISTMAS at Titusville Playhouse

The classic, heartwarming holiday musical comes to vivid life on stage in Titusville, FL

Review: WHITE CHRISTMAS at Titusville Playhouse The holidays are about traditions - that special dish on the table, the favorite decoration that was handmade by your child, or a familiar song playing on the radio. And for many, nothing says tradition like watching a classic holiday film. Even though we take comfort in watching these familiar stories play out in the expected way on the small screen, for me, one of the special thrills of seeing a lot of live theater is getting to witness a timeless classic brought to vivid life on the stage. Such is the case for WHITE CHRISTMAS, the latest offering from Titusville Playhouse in Titusville, FL - a thrilling, heartwarming and thoroughly entertaining musical for everyone - young and old alike.

Review: WHITE CHRISTMAS at Titusville Playhouse WHITE CHRISTMAS is based upon the Paramount Pictures film and features music and lyrics by Irving Berlin and a book by David Ives and Paul Blake. It tells the familiar tale of former Broadway performer Bob Wallace (Vince Wingerter) and young aspiring artist Phil Davis (Thomas Greene) who are stationed overseas during WWII under the command of General Henry Waverly (James "Jimbo" Bordenkircher). Ten years later, in 1954, the two performers have made a name for themselves and meet a sister act, Betty (Kristen Olson) and Judy Haynes (Jennifer Wingerter) and are immediately enthralled. The four travel to Vermont for Christmas where they find the inn the sisters are supposed to headline is struggling due to a lack of snow. The inn just happens to be run by Bob and Phil's old commanding officer, Gen. Waverly, who is supported by his concierge, Martha Watson (Chantelle (Wingerter) Ripley) and his granddaughter, Susan (Payton Zeegers). Bob and Phil decide to bring their entire show up from Miami to try and help save the inn and hatch a plan to bring the whole 151st division there for Christmas as well to honor "The Old Man". The group soon finds out that staging a Broadway musical in a barn is not as easy as it sounds but through budding romances, misunderstandings (and reconciliations), and some thrilling production numbers, the audience is treated to a story that excites and enthralls and warms the soul like a good cup of hot chocolate by the fire.

Review: WHITE CHRISTMAS at Titusville Playhouse Mounting a classic can be a tricky proposition, as audiences have a strong sense for what they love about the original and can be quite critical if a new adaptation doesn't stand up to their expectations. However, in WHITE CHRISTMAS at Titusville Playhouse, the familiar blends with the new and results in a musical that is extremely well-produced with a solid vision and flawless execution that ensures that the classic moments survive (and thrive) in a live setting. Executive Artistic Director, Steven J. Heron does a fantastic job bringing the story to vivid life on the Titusville Playhouse stage and his direction and vision for the show is solid, well-paced and truly delivers. He is also hilarious in two small roles, including the slow, but steady, farmhand Ezekiel Foster.

Review: WHITE CHRISTMAS at Titusville Playhouse The cast of WHITE CHRISTMAS are all fantastic and so much fun to watch perform. They are consummate entertainers and capture the warm familiarity of the characters while adding their own take on these iconic roles. As Bob Wallace, Vince Wingerter is more down to earth than Bing Crosby played to role, though equally prickly. He shows off a lovely voice, which comes through in the big production numbers (like "Blue Skies") and the more personal moments ("Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep"). As his partner, Phil Davis, Thomas Greene has excellent comic timing and plays off Mr. Wingerter's straight man very well. He is also a great dancer and is a thrill to watch in the big dance numbers, especially the second act opener "I Love A Piano". Kristen Olson gives us a Betty Haynes that is strong willed but warm-hearted and shines throughout, but especially in her sultry delivery of "How Deep Is The Ocean". And as her sister, Judy, Jennifer Wingerter is equally brilliant, especially in her dance numbers with Mr. Greene's Phil. Chantelle (Wingerter) Ripley is bold and brassy as Martha Watson - bringing the house down with her delivery of "Let Me Sing and I'm Happy", and Payton Zeegers gives a strong performance as young Susan. The ensemble is extremely solid as well - especially in the big tap numbers that had the audience cheering.

Review: WHITE CHRISTMAS at Titusville Playhouse As with past Titusville Playhouse productions, the creatives who help bring WHITE CHRISTMAS to life on stage are fantastic. Ryan Henricks' choreography is inspired - giving the audience the expected and the unexpected through his fresh and exciting dance numbers. His tap numbers, especially, are a true thrill to watch. Spencer Crosswell's music direction and sound design ensures the music performed is not only great, but sounds great too. Jordyn Linkous (who also, once again, gives us fabulous wigs too) and Janine Sunday's costumes are the perfect mix - recreating the classics (e.g., "Sisters" dresses, and famous red velvet outfits from the finale) and infusing new vision as well (e.g., "I Love A Piano" black and white vests). As always, Cliff Price's scenic designs are wonderful - his rugged barn set works well - ever present but setting the stage appropriately for every scene. Mr. Price's designs are well-complimented by Niko Stamos' projections striking the perfect balance on stage.

Overall, Titusville Playhouse's production of WHITE CHRISTMAS is the perfect way to ring in the holidays. It is a familiar, yet fresh, night (or afternoon!) at the theatre - full of fantastic performances that delight in a way only a classic can. Most importantly, this production is full of the warmth and love of the season and is sure to become a classic, just like the film it is based upon.

Review: WHITE CHRISTMAS at Titusville Playhouse

WHITE CHRISTMAS, presented by Titusville Playhouse, runs through December 18th. Tickets are $25 to $37. Performances take place at the Titusville Playhouse, 301 Julia Street, Titusville, FL 32796. Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.TitusvillePlayhouse.com or calling (321) 268-1125.

All Photos by Niko Stamos, Titusville Playhouse

Headline Photo: The Cast of White Christmas

Top Photo: Vince Wingerter as Bob Wallace & Thomas Greene as Phil Davis

Middle Photo 1: Kristen Olson as Betty Haynes & Jennifer Wingerter as Judy Haynes

Middle Photo 2: Chantelle (Wingerter) Ripley as Martha Watson & the Cast of White Christmas

Middle Photo 3: Vince Wingerter as Bob Wallace & the Cast of White Christmas

Middle Photo 4: Jennifer Wingerter as Judy Haynes & Thomas Greene as Phil Davis

Bottom Photo: Vince Wingerter as Bob Wallace & the Cast of White Christmas




From This Author - Joseph Harrison

Joseph Harrison has been involved with the theatre in some form or fashion all his life. He holds a Journalism degree from the University of Georgia, but his true love is the theatre which he has b... (read more about this author)


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