BWW Reviews: WHITE CHRISTMAS a Happy Holiday at Hillbarn
Pierce Peter Brandt and Jim Ambler lead the energy and talent of Hillbarn Theatre's White Christmas. The two equity actors give great character and Broadway-quality vocals to song and dance partners Bob Wallace and Phil Davis. Behind them, an ensemble provides perfect harmonies attuned to the show's 1950's era. And although the scenic design remains simple throughout, a grand finale features Kuo-Hai Lo's gorgeous mountain background and an audience surprise that we won't spoil here.
Based on the classic film, White Christmas remains a holiday standard. The full-blown musical follows Wallace and Davis as they scheme to put on a show in honor of their former army general and as they fall in love with sisters Betty (Melissa O'Keefe with a contagious smile) and Judy (a staid Amanda Farbstein) Haynes.
Hillbarn's production drags a bit once the characters arrive at the inn, where minor players provide strong vocals, but relaxed acting fails to take advantage of the show's humor. On the other hand, Ken Brill provides an enjoyable "ayup" as farmhand Ekeziel Foster, despite a faux, Yukon Cornelius-type beard. And just wait, young Emily Mannion has a kicker of a voice as Susan Waverly, the general's granddaughter.
The cast puts its heart into fun dances choreographed by Gennine Harrington to the memorable music of Irving Berlin: "Happy Holiday," "White Christmas," "Snow," "I Love A Piano" (which features some adorable music note hats designed by Kate Schroeder), and more.
Through Dec 21
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