Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: WHITE CHRISTMAS National Tour

Review: WHITE CHRISTMAS National Tour

It seems that the best things really do happen while you're dancing, or at least they do in the touring production of WHITE CHRISTMAS that's currently at DPAC. The musical is at its very best during its high-energy dance numbers. The show is based on the 1954 holiday classic film starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen. With music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, the show is a fun Christmas-themed romp with plenty of 1950s nostalgia, beautiful costumes, and great tap dancing.

This stage version of White Christmas is directed and choreographed by Randy Skinner. It follows two army veterans, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, who are famous entertainers post-war. When they meet sister act Betty and Judy Haynes, they're immediately enamoured and end up following them up to an inn in Vermont where they decide to mount their rehearsals for their next big show. Imagine their surprise to find that the inn is run by their former army general -- and that there's no snow in Vermont in December. The musical premiered at the Muny in 2000 and on Broadway in 2008.

Review: WHITE CHRISTMAS National Tour It can be difficult to separate this musical from the film it's based on, but it's most enjoyable when you can appreciate it for what it is and forget that it's an adaptation. There are some moments that are obviously replicas of scenes from the movie, like the costumes and feather fans for the "Sisters" duet. However, it is impossible to recreate the scale of the movie onstage and there are also changes to the story and characters. Phil is more of a playboy, Bob is more opposed to love, and Betty admits her feelings a lot sooner.

The book of the musical, written by Paul Blake and David Ives, feels more centered around the romances than the original film. I felt that the musical didn't sell the romances as well as the film as they felt oddly rushed, but appreciated the addition of the character of Martha, the housekeeper at the end who has Broadway aspirations herself. The book is full of humor and funny moments, though it also has some awkward spots of dialogue. Overall, compared to the other elements, the script is the weakest part of the show.

Review: WHITE CHRISTMAS National Tour On the other hand, the songs and dancing are the best moments. The musical has all of the songs from the film that audiences know and love like "Snow" and "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep," supplemented by other Irving Berlin songs like "Love and the Weather" and "Let Me Sing and I'm Happy." These songs are perfectly integrated into the structure of the show so that nothing feels out of place. The tap dancing is absolutely exquisite and the tap number, "I Love a Piano," that opens Act II is a definite highlight.

It is no easy feat to take on roles made famous by the likes of legends like Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney, but the cast do a great job of making the characters their own and not simply being carbon copies of their counterparts on film. Kerry Conte has classic old Hollywood glamour as Betty Haynes, though she brings to mind Maureen O'Hara more than Rosemary Clooney. She also has a rich and lovely voice, which fits her songs beautifully. While David Elder doesn't have the same dignity and gravitas as Bing Crosby, his lighter charm makes more sense for song-and-dance man Bob Wallace. His voice is perfectly suited to these more old-fashioned songs; he sounds like a 1950s crooner.

Jeremy Benton and Kelly Sheehan shine as the more light-hearted pair Phil and Judy and are very skilled dancers. The general's granddaughter, Susan, is younger in the stage show than in the film and Emma Grace Berardelli brings a precocious cheerfulness to the role. Lorna Luft (yes, that Lorna Luft, Judy Garland's daughter) plays housekeeper Martha Watson who has some hilarious numbers and is a good foil to Conrad John Schuck's more subdued General.

Review: WHITE CHRISTMAS National Tour The design of the piece is fantastic from the colorful period costumes by Carrie Robbins to the varied sets by Anna Louizos. The costumes complement the dancing particularly well, with swirling skirts and detailed heeled tap shoes for the women. One of the best sets is the detailed train car used for the "Snow" number. The Ed Sullivan Show parts were also particularly cheerful and bright.

If you're looking for a bit of Christmas cheer, this musical certainly delivers. The cast make their roles their own and prove themselves to be true triple threats. While it doesn't always live up to the film it's based on, White Christmas is a fun holiday show full of showy dance numbers and great Irving Berlin songs.

WHITE CHRISTMAS is playing at DPAC until December 8. You can find out more and buy tickets here.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniels Photography



NEXT STOP BROADWAY Returns To DPAC, July 17- 21 Photo
DPAC has announced that one of the most anticipated community events of the year, Next Stop BROADWAY, will return July 17 – 21, 2023.

Winners Announced For The 2022 BroadwayWorld Raleigh Awards Photo
The winners have been announced for the 2022 BroadwayWorld Raleigh Awards, honoring the best in regional productions, touring shows, and more which had their first performance between October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2022.

Community Leaders Join Hillside Drama To Present Play STATE OF URGENCY Photo
Sheriff Clarence Birkhead wants to use the arts as one of the ways to reach young people concerning gun violence in Durham. The sheriff is joining Durham Public Schools to host a talkback and open dialogue with DPS students after they attend the play 'State of Urgency.'

Sandhills Repertory Theatre to Present JUDY, JONI AND JOAN in March Photo
'Judy, Joni and Joan: The Music of Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez' will be presented by the Sandhills Repertory Theatre at the Sunrise Theater March 18 at 7pm and March 19 at 3 and 7pm.


From This Author - Nicole Ackman

Nicole Ackman returned to her native Raleigh, North Carolina after living in London and New York City. She studied communications and history at Elon University and earned her Master’s in Art... (read more about this author)


BWW Review: ELF THE MUSICAL National Tour, DPACBWW Review: ELF THE MUSICAL National Tour, DPAC
December 1, 2022

Elf, which was released in 2003, has undoubtedly achieved that status with its endlessly quotable lines and endearingly funny performance by Will Ferrell as Buddy. Many of these beloved holiday films have been adapted for the stage, like White Christmas and A Christmas Story, so it’s natural that Elf has received the same treatment.

BWW Review: THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG, Theatre RaleighBWW Review: THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG, Theatre Raleigh
September 17, 2022

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG might just be one of the funniest concepts to grace the stage of a theater in the past fifty years. The play, by Henry Lewis, Henry Shields, and Jonathan Sayer, depicts a theater group putting on a performance of “The Murder at Haversham Manor” that goes disastrously wrong from its first minutes.

BWW Review: CITY OF ANGELS, Theatre RaleighBWW Review: CITY OF ANGELS, Theatre Raleigh
August 10, 2022

You could still smell the new paint in the newly refurbished theater during the opening night of Theatre Raleigh’s CITY OF ANGELS. It’s fitting that director and choreographer Lauren Kennedy Brady was fulfilling a dream of bringing this production to life while also debuting the company’s new theater.

BWW Review: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD National Tour, DPACBWW Review: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD National Tour, DPAC
August 5, 2022

Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic 1960 novel TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD opened on Broadway in 2018. (Yes, that Aaron Sorkin). Directed by Bartlett Sher, the play transports the audience to Alabama in 1934, where Atticus Finch is representing a Black man falsely accused of sexual assault.

BWW Review: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR National Tour, DPACBWW Review: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR National Tour, DPAC
June 19, 2022

When JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR first premiered in 1972, it was banned by the BBC for being “sacrilegious.” The musical, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, imagines the last week in the life of Jesus Christ in the form of a sung-through rock opera. The tour currently at DPAC plays into the rock side of the musical.