Review: ‘Irving Berlin’s White Christmas’

IBWC 2016 National Tour Company. Jeremy Daniel Photography, 2016.

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas

Part of the Broadway at the Bass Series

Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m. (except Sunday – 6:30 p.m.). Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 1:30 p.m.

November 17 – 19, 2017

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Bass Performance Hall

If you love the movie White Christmas as much as I do, I know what you are thinking. There is no way a stage production can be as good as the 1954 film classic.

Guess what? It is! And in many ways, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is better than the original.

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The show, which runs through Sunday, Nov. 19 at Bass Hall. is full of spectacular dance numbers. The best is the opening of Act II – I Love A Piano, featuring Jeremy Benton as Phil, Kelly Sheehan as Judy, a “Linus-sized” piano and a dazzling tap dance extravaganza.

Don’t expect this White Christmas to follow the movie script. Several changes have been made to the storyline. Some scenes have been omitted or combined to speed up the storytelling.

There’s a very good reason for that. The Broadway version of White Christmas gives three of the movie’s characters a chance to demonstrate their singing talent.

Remember the busybody front desk clerk? In this version, Martha Watson (Karen Ziemba) is a wannabe star who can belt out a song just like Ethel Merman. The general’s young granddaughter Susan (Makayla Joy Connolly) almost steals the show with her audition. Ezekiel (who manages the barn) has a booming bass voice we first hear during the train scene. Cliff Bemis also plays the snoring passenger. He is hilarious in both roles.

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In the Broadway version, Bob (Sean Montgomery) croons How Deep Is The Ocean while Betty (Kerry Conte) sings Love You Didn’t Do Right By Me. A thrilling torch song duet.

You’ll love the stage version of Blue Skies – an homage to A Chorus Line.

There is only one scene from the film that can’t be translated to the stage. Remember the movie ending – when all of Gen. Waverly’s troops travelled to Vermont to surprise him? There’s just no way to duplicate all those soldiers lined up for the general’s inspection.

But you will get to relive that magic moment when the barn doors open to reveal snow on Christmas Eve. The costumes are even more exquisite.