"White Christmas" charms at PPAC

Irving Berlin's White Christmas
December 8-13, 2015
Providence Performing Arts Center

Perennial holiday movie favorite White Christmas comes to the stage with just as much joy, snark and energy as the film version.

Here's the basic plot:

Phil Davis and Bob Wallace are song and dance men in 1954 who had served together during World War II under General Waverly. When another Army buddy writes to ask them to critique his sisters' song and dance act, the two travel to Florida for the favor. There they meet the Haynes sisters, Betty and Judy.
The sisters are booked to perform for the holidays at the Columbia Inn in Vermont, coincidentally owned by now-retired General Waverly. But there's no snow in Vermont this December, and the inn's guests are cancelling. Things are looking grim.
Wallace and Davis are dedicated to their former C.O., and decide to rehearse their dance troupe at the inn for the holidays. Will that be enough to save the inn's fortunes and the General's dignity?
There are departures from the movie, additional and expanded songs and shifted numbers. They're all in favor of more music, giving us full-on Irving Berlin tunes, rather than the snippets we heard in the film.

The General's granddaughter, a teen in the film, is played with spunkiness by Elizabeth Crawford. She gets her own number, and owns it.

Betty, played by Kerry Conte, has a lovely alto voice, and handled the part well. Kelly Sheehan's Judy was a playful partner to Jeremy Benton's Phil. Sean Montgomery as Bob took me aback at first. I was expecting a bass-baritone, like Crosby, but he's more in the bari-tenor range. In fact, I was reminded a lot of Gene Kelly in his song and dance. Not a bad association at all, and once I got past the octave.

The scenes and costumes are both impressive and absolutely charming, and the ensemble singers and dancers were graceful and high-energy.

White Christmas is corny and sentimental, which means it sets just the right tone for the holiday season.



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