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Review: ‘White Christmas’ shines with good old song, dance |
Theater & Arts

Review: ‘White Christmas’ shines with good old song, dance

Kevin White
Kaitlyn Davidson and Jeremy Benton in the 2014 touring company prodution of Irving Berlin’s 'White Christmas.'
Kevin White
Trista Moldovan (left) and Kaitlyn Davidson in the 2014 touring company prodution of Irving Berlin’s 'White Christmas.'

Whatever the weather outside, snowfall will continue inside the Benedum Center through Nov. 23.

“Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” a national six-city seasonal tour, is playing as a presentation of the PNC Broadway Across America — Pittsburgh series.

Set a decade after World War II, it is a fluffy, nostalgic romantic comedy about a pair of young war veterans who team up to become a top song-and-dance act. When they fall for a pair of sisters who have a similar act, the guys — Bob Wallace and Phil Davis — follow Judy and Betty Haynes to Vermont, where the women are booked to play a Christmas show. To the men’s surprise, their former commander, Gen. Waverly, is the owner of the ski lodge struggling with a lack of snow and guests.

You might be tempted to give the musical a pass in favor of home-viewing the 1954 film with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen.

While that has its advantages, you would miss a highly professional, music-filled evening of live entertainment.

Despite the efforts of book writers David Ives and Paul Blake, this stage adaptation remains an old-fashioned, fluffy, romantic comedy of love and comradeship tested by easily resolved misunderstandings and manly pride.

Don’t dwell on the plot’s many flaws and holes. Just relax and enjoy the cast’s abundant skills and talents as they work their way through a score of songs that include “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep,” “Happy Holidays,” “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” and, of course, “White Christmas.”

Conrad John Schuck and Pamela Myers lend heart, depth and not a little comedy as the gruff Gen. Waverly and Martha Watson, the inn’s big-voiced manager.

Director and choreographer Randy Skinner enlivens the proceedings with spectacular dance numbers, notably “Let Yourself Go,” “I Love a Piano” and “Blue Skies.” He makes good use of the talented ensemble and the principals James Clow, Jeremy Benton, Trista Moldovan and Kaitlyn Davidson, who play Wallace, Davis and sisters Betty and Judy Haynes.

Moldovan gives a meaningful performance of “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me” and she and Davidson are delightfully engaging in “Sisters.”

For fans of big splashy tap numbers and sincerely sung love ballads, it’s a Christmas present you should give yourself.

Alice T. Carter is the theater critic for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808, [email protected] or via Twitter @ATCarter_Trib.

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